Let's Talk Difficulty


I recently submitted a question on difficulty to the devs. They responded and asked if I wanted to see something more like FTL, which has some very difficult parts, or something more approachable.

I responded by saying this:

"Some people have discussed “switches” for the game to add difficulty. I think a game with so many modules should have this sort of options. Here’s some ideas:

Raging Barbarians - Goblins, Elementals, and Titans Oh My! Enemies will be a constant challenge to you and any neutral/friendly factions. Man the ramparts!

Gold Digger - An ancient, wealthy, subterrainean civilization once held a vast empire. Everywhere you dig, you find ancient lairs of gold.

Magic? What Magic? - Game without magic

Glutens - your people consume twice as much food. Greedy bastards.

Sloth - your civilians are lazy bums! speed reduced by two

Those! - giant ants come up from the ground if you try to dig

Mama Mia! - Near your start location is a green pipe. Where could it lead? (places you in a random location in the map)

Plague - rate of sickness doubled

Iron Man - All attacks are doubled; healing away from city reduced by .5

Drought - you live in a world where weather is completely unpredictable - snow in the summer, no rain for years - do you trade or raid to survive?

Prophetic Demise - in 20 years (or whatever relevant in game time it would be) a horde of demons, led by Olbaid will cover the land in apocalyptic fury. Can you stop them/how long will you last?

these are just a few ideas. Overall, I think that the game should provide a moderate challenge. FTL was great, but the final boss is almost impossible to beat even on the easiest difficulty. I think fights like that should be kept away from the city. The hardest titans, for example, should be ones that players seek to fight, not ones that actively seek out the player. I also don’t think any difficulty slider should effect AI - I think that it should change the amount of damage dealt by enemies or the accuracy of weapons."

My question to ya’ll is this: In general, how do you think difficulty should be approached? If you like my “switch” idea, what other “switches” do you think should be added?

Oh, forgot one.

Sausagefest - All swords are replaced by giant, delicious sausages!

Hopefully you’ve been on the forums enough to get the joke. :stuck_out_tongue:

Peace and hardships

PS~ I’m pretty sure I said “glutens” instead of glotten… ahem… >.>


Well, you know, glutens are dangerous too. :wink: Add to Allergy mod and…


I was thinking about this for some time now and went “well they should added a slider to increase hp dmg defense attack rate etc” but having the switchs sounds more like optional mods instead of difficulty lvl, dont get me wrong im all in for a sausagefest (lol) but i dont think it should have anything to do with the difficulty concept but more with the modds concept, in either case all these ideas are great and would be certainly entertaining on the long run, but a slider that increses the overall difficulty is a must


@SharpKris See, I think switches plays directly into the concept of the game. It’s even a concept that (I think) plays directly into the devs vision of the world being populated by modules - modules you can choose to have in your game or not. Some of these concepts aren’t exactly “modules”, but it’s the same sort of idea.

If you honestly want my inspiration for these ideas, I was thinking of Ranger mode in Metro Last Light, or that mode in XCOM that makes things harder and yo uonly have one save (is it called Iron Man mode?), or hardcore mode in Fallout: New Vegas. Those concepts are way more fun that a simple “easy, medium, hard” mode. It’s not that you shouldn’t have easy/medium/hard mode, but the REAL challenge should come from adding these switches.

you could even make the moddable (I think) by allowing people to mod in their own switches!


@sdee from what I hear, glutens also make people fatter… so I guess it’s an appropriate name for the switch? hahahahha.


Will there be an option to play “Casually” for those who cannot be playing every day and be worried that they’re going to be raided or destroyed by outside forces? Maybe a different part of the map that has less dangers?


@AAristi1976 Yep, there will be a “for fun” mode where everything lethal in the game is removed and you can just zen out and build.


I would rather have something more complex than what TES Skyrim does with it’s difficulty (you do less damage and enemies do more damage, I feel like this by itself is the wrong way to go in terms of effecting difficulty). I think we can come up with better ways of increasing difficulty and I think DAWGaMims has some good ideas, but I hope they are checkboxes that you get at the start of a game instead of only being able to choose one. Maybe a hybrid system were there is the normal easy-hard system with these options as additional challenges or additions to each difficulty setting.


My understanding of the game is that you can adjust how violent your world is. While Geoffers right, there is a city-building only mode (with the relevant trade opportunities, etc.), it sounds to me as though you can adjust what modules are present, including the frequency of hostile creatures.

But this is conjecture, I am not 100% on this. Though I hope this idea will happen.


I personally would like to see a difficulty switch similar to that of the Starcraft games. For those of you who don’t know what I am referring to: Starcraft computer players or “AI”, have different difficulty levels that you can set. These can range from Very Easy to insane. The difference is the play style of the computer, instead of slowly building up forces. The computer will use very precise orders that can result in faster collection of minerals, to quicker reactions on the battlefield. So, in this scenario. Changing the difficulty from lower to higher levels, could result in increased resistance from whatever computer force that you are at odds with. Another quick and easy way that this could be used, is by boosting the damage, speed and health of the players enemies. This system is basic, should be easy to implement, and easy to understand for those less intelligent (But equally as awesome) players.


I like the idea of these switches, very similar to what Bastion’s difficulty setting were. You selected “idols” which made creatures harder in ways such as, mobs had a chance to become invulnerable for a short time, that attacked/moved faster, they regen health etc. They had about 16 idols or so that you could activate. You could have all or just a few or none, more gave you increased xp etc. so there were perks to having them, worked great for that game.

A similar idea for this game would be great, although using that as a difficulty system I personally don’t think fits. Seems more like it would take the game into a more of challenge mode then just increasing the difficulty (if that makes sense :P).

Maybe I want to play the game with all the normal settings and I don’t want to lose caves, magic or have fat settlers etc. (Going from DAWGaMims suggestions.) Instead I just want creatures to be stronger or seasons to last longer (although that could be its own switch I guess).

Personally I’d like to see both, a slider (in a sense) and challenge type switches. Slider would be good for simple difficulty change, but the switches could change how you play the game and not just tougher mobs etc.


DAWGaMims said something I really like.

So basically everything that’s really hard and truely menacing for your city, should be optional and the player should decide when or if at all he/she wants to face those dangers.
I don’t say there should be no active dangers at all. But there should not be some Cthulhu-type monster trampling my city to smithereens out of nothing. Some randomly attacking hordes of goblins every now and then are ok, when they aren’t too destructive.

Instead the really challenging stuff should be player triggered. And it should be an informed decision by the player if he wants to expose himself to those challenges.
Like, the player could find some book in a quest, mentioning a ritual to summon an epic fiend that could destroy the city if the defenses aren’t good enough. But the book should mention this danger and maybe give an idea of what is neccessary to fend the beast off.

What if I decide to build a trade city, and don’t want to go “the way of the samurai”.
You could say I could switch off enemies alltogether, but I don’t want to miss out on combat completely. But I don’t want to have to focus on military to fend off some giant demon lord that could pop up out of nothing at any given time either.

So some scaling in difficulty depending on what the individual player is actually willing to take on, while he plays the game, rather than an On/Off-Switch would be nice.

On a similar note, take disasters in SimCity.
I. Hate. Them.
They are neither funny, nor challenging, nor give the player a gratifying feeling of achievement when they’re being overcome, because you can do nothing to actually overcome them or fend them off. You just have to fix your city. They are just utterly annoying and frustrating, because they punish the player not for making wrong decisions, but for playing the game in the first place.

So dear Devs. If you consider adding earthquakes to the game: Don’t!


I see no reason why major categories of the game couldn’t be adjusted when a new game would be started. One of my old-time favorites, Space Empires IV, has settings to configure out how often random events would occur and their maximum severity (for better or worse). If you cranked it down you got few/no events, if you turned it up you could see some pretty crazy stuff happen. You also tweak the computer opponent AI, as others have mentioned.



I respectfully conquer. Natural disasters in every game add an additional challenge for the player. For example. In Sim City, lets say a tornado destroys your power grid. You are now challenged with the task of repairing the damages caused by this, just as any other mayor or authority would have to in real life. It might also make you think about how you want to build your city. Instead of making the whole thing rely on one farmland that could be destroyed by such a disaster, perhaps it would be smart to spread it out. While yes, disasters are very annoying. They can add interesting aspects to the game that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.


Isnt that the idea from the Festival stretch goal, that ignoring these festivals could cause negative consequences. Unless I read the that wrong… can’t remember where I read that now… But I agree that having more control over random goblin attacks etc. would be nice.

One thing I thought about is, say I wanted to build a monastery type town, so It’s mainly monks or something like that that live there (of course I have villages for food etc.) but as a monastery I may have little military capabilities, so when goblins attack I’m more or less screwed. Sure I could reduce difficulty or turn enemies off but that’s boring. What I’d like to see is ways of defeating the goblins (or any other enemy) in a way that would suit a monastery type town, possibly warrior monks, or maybe using some sort of influence to manipulate the enemies mind to defeat them or even possibly influencing the enemy before they attack and if you stop manipulating them they’ll wake up (from your control) and then attack you, so it’s kind of a constant mediation thing. I dunno, sounded interesting to me, other ways of defeating the enemy other than just a sword or fireball to the face…

Sorry if that seems off topic, but thought I’d share.


In one of their live streams I remember them talking about the festivals and saying that they are pretty much aesthetic only and have no actual impact on the gameplay except for a slight buff that will last a day or even a week. In order for the festival to happen you do not need to collect any resources or spend time setting it up but you have to basically have your townspeople in a happy mood leading up to the festival.


Oh ok, that’s fine, I was sure that I read they may have consequences. Either that was false or just an idea and outdated.


A. Hmm, I guess the question is: What is the natural (unaffected) difficulty they are aiming for? Dwarf Fortress !FUN! or a more casual game?

B. Mutators/modifiers would be cool. If not already there, def a mod I would download.


These game changers sound interesting and fun!