Klei Entertainment is working hard to ensure a smooth difficulty curve in its upcoming turn-based stealth title Invisible, Inc. (née Incognita).
You might imagine that the solution would be as simple as fiddling with a big red knob with the word “difficulty” stamped on it, but it turns out the problem’s a bit more nuanced than that. Klei designers James Lantz and Jason Dreger recently told Rock, Paper, Shotgun that the largest factor contributing to the frustration of early-access players is the game’s procedurally generated levels, since the randomness can make it hard for new players to ease into the experience.
“The thing we get the most noise on is frustration with the procedural level generation and an uneven difficulty curve,” they explained. “So that’s where a lot of our focus will be as we go ahead now. The procedural level generation in particular will be continually improved until we’re happy with it.”
But they were also quick to point out that the game won’t get too easy—a bit of serious challenge has always been fundamental to the design. “We made the game difficult because we wanted Invisible, Inc. to be about learning the underlying systems instead of learning the content or levels,” they added. “Even though a single successful playthrough will be fairly short, it will take many plays to have the skill and knowledge to make it to the end. We want to tap into that fun learning process that begins with wide-eyed wonder and ends with mastery of the game’s systems and total confidence in your abilities.
“We will be continuing to tweak difficulty throughout development to give players the most satisfying learning process and to keep the game from being overly frustrating on the first couple plays.”
If you’ve got a Windows PC, you can currently pre-purchase Invisible, Inc. on the official website to gain access to the alpha. Klei plans to make the game available on Steam as it enters the beta phase and promises further platform details in the future.