Implementing mobile game difficulty: Dissident challenge
Our primary target always was to offer to the players a true arcade experience based in simple mechanics that we can combine to propose more and more difficult challenges. Due to the medium nature, mobile games tend to simplify every mechanic: look at rail guided movement in traditional runner games. It helps players get into the game quickly but it also dennies them the possibility to masterize subtle shifts. That’s why mobile games difficulty use to lie on surprise or emergence instead of mechanic mastery.
Sticking into a simple gameplay, we decided to add some degree of depth to every mechanic. You can move your character either by smoothly tilting your device or using abrupt dodges, depending on what you need. You’ll have to learn to time your shots in order to save ammo and to get higher scores: bashing the screen will be punished. Sometimes you’ll have to correct your jump trajectory to get a precious item. Finally, we wanted you to combine those actions, being able to shoot an enemy at the same you are dodging obstacles. Achieving players to internalize all these things is the key of good old arcade games, even if sometimes they have been rejected for being (apparently) too simple.
Delving into this kind of gameplay means that our learning curve is longer than usual, something that seems to be against us in the celerity of mobile game market. However, we expect players to perceive this as something positive and gratifying. We’re sure that, once you start mastering Dissident, you won’t go back to traditional runner games.
On the other hand, in this kind of game it’s common to offer hundreds of procedurally generated levels that are easy to complete on the first attempt (and also easy to forget). Here in Dissident you’ll find handmade designed levels where we have introduced, little by little, new elements. Many of these levels won’t be finished on the first attempt (and probably neither on the second): learning what is expecting you in every corner is part of Dissident challenge.
However, we don’t want to reach player frustration. Levels shouldn’t be completed just by trial and error: player’s skill and mechanics assimilattion have to play a key role. Finding a half-way point between these opposite poles is one our main goals and will be till launch day.
After putting tons of efforts into polishing level design we can claim that Dissident is a challenging game that requires less memorization and more mechanic mastery and improvisation than it did months ago. After several test sessions we have wiped out many obstacles that caused cheap deaths (good bye to the infamous “killer desks”!).
We expect you to accept Dissident: Survival Runner challenge! If you progress through the learning curve, you’ll want to get all the stars available in every single level.