Super Suit: Fixing XP and Difficulty

February 8, 2011

While walking the dog this morning, I figured out how to fix the part of Super Suit that still vex me.

First, there’s no XP to spend or list of different “events” (upgrades, bosses, etc.) that you have to trigger in order. Instead, there’s just a list of things that can happen, like the MC moves in Apocalypse World.

Stuff like:
– You find a missile upgrade.
– You reach the boss chamber.
– You find an elevator, taking you deeper.

After all, the whole point of the game, really, is to use your creativity to create a really badass Metroid-style map and explore it, with the game providing enough structure to help you do that. So, basically, when you create the next room, you should just pick (or randomly roll) options off a list that make sense based on the pacing you have in mind. If you want things to get harder, then make them harder. If you think the boss should come up soon, then decide to have it come up soon.

The other thing is that the player should stop and generate the horrors’ stats by using her “foe tracker” or “xenographic analyzer” or something. So when you generate a horror, you add it to the database of enemies that you gradually build up over the course of the game. You can then choose to add another copy of a previously encountered horror to the map, rather that generating new ones each time. And it gives some logic to the idea that you stop and think about the horror before fighting it, since you’re recording its data in your log. And when you stop to generate the enemy, you can decide how difficult you want to make it, based on pacing decisions.

Perhaps, over time, it’ll become clear what the best pacing and difficulty practices are, but it’s really hard to know what they’ll be without me and some other players playing the game extensively, just based on our own “internal clocks” about what should come next. Then, perhaps we can distill those best practices into rules or XP or whatever, but that’s not really necessary for the alpha draft.

2 Responses to “Super Suit: Fixing XP and Difficulty”

  1. John Harper Says:

    Hmmm. Hmmmm, I say.

    I think “make up your own pacing and difficulty,” is a cop out, frankly. I definitely want the game system to provide stuff for me in both those areas (for this particular design). If the game isn’t giving me those constraints in some interesting way, we’re veering awfully close to just fooling around with some index cards and markers, which I can already do just fine without Super Suit.

    Maybe I’m just being difficult.

  2. You’re probably right, but I just don’t think I can write that section in good faith yet without playing the game more. I could make stuff up, but it would just be guessing in the dark (I realize that potentially playtesters would expect some of that, but it still feels weird to me). So, for this alpha draft, I think I’m going to stick to this for now, even if it just creates something that I enjoy playing.

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