Skill level rebalance


#1

(Edited for consistency, clarification and refined values)

I’ll be the first to argue that skill levels being backwards was actually more appropriate than the way it was in previous games and it is now. Those few missions that I flew between when I got Superstar Hero and until it was patched were some of the most fun I’ve had in singleplayer Chicken Invaders in a long time. Most of my experience comes from playing tier 4 difficulty missions, the hardest I could find, so keep that in mind.

CIU is one of those games that’s about progression, upgrades, and becoming more powerful, right? At the moment, Superstar Hero (SSH) goes completely against that. When they purchase something with their hard-earned keys, most people expect an improvement in their performance, but when equipping SSH they’ll find that Chickens now take a lot more shots to kill. In some waves, like High-Speed Chase, you won’t be able to kill almost anything, and bosses can sponge a lot more shots so that they can take more than 3 minutes to kill even at max power.

Secondly, “Skill level” is a misnomer. The skill of a player is their ability to keep their ship intact when under heavy fire from the Henpire forces, while the way it works now is simply a damage handicap on the player or a health increase for the enemies (not sure which, since the end result is the same). Though if you made enough progress to be able to purchase SSH, you probably improved your skill by a fair amount, so a positive multiplier for the player would reflect their experience and allow them to tackle more difficult missions that they weren’t able to before. Even the slogan for SSH: “I eat chickens for breakfast!” implies being at the top of the food chain, able to roast poultry at any time of the day.

Right now, playing without any skill level modifier, so on default Rookie, in a tier 4 mission, feels somewhat harder than what Veteran was in previous games. I played a daily challenge on hard with SSH equipped and thought that chickens took an unreasonable amount of shots to kill, as well as bosses being way more resilient than previous games on SSH. I’d say that the game should be tailored so that an experienced player with max power Utensil Poker, and maybe with some help from some of the new upgrades, can get a Clean Sweep on just about any wave. With SSH the way it is now, that’s not much of a possibility. From what I’ve seen in CIU, SSH gives +200% score bonus, but the extra time it takes to complete the mission, the fewer enemies killed, and in turn reduced food and keys, doesn’t make the bonus worthwhile. Even if the bonus is increased to what it was in previous games, +900%, score remains just a number, it doesn’t change that it simply isn’t fun to fire at chickens for days before they die.

In my opinion, to make a good progression game, you want players to start with a low power character (or spacecraft, in this case) and work their way up to being more powerful, while also facing more powerful enemies and increasing the rewards for doing so. To put it into context,

A new player should:

  • Start on Tourist skill level
  • Mainly play tier 0 – tier 1 missions
  • Mostly face regular Chicks, Chickens, Pilot Chickens
  • Not be able to kill bosses very quickly
  • Get a low payout for their missions, like 40 keys and 10 million points for 40 waves

An experienced player should:

  • Play on Superstar Hero skill level
  • Only plays tier 4 missions
  • Fight multiple Chickenauts, Armored Chickens and Chick Gatling Guns at the same time on screen
  • Kill bosses quickly, regular waves should often be more difficult than boss waves
  • Get a high payout for their missions, like 160 keys and 60 million points for 40 waves

Even in this early version of the game, I am pleased with the way the economy works, I feel like I’m making real progress fast enough to not get bored until I’m able to buy something new, but not so fast that I’ll unlock everything in a couple of days. I think a small game like CIU should take no more than 100-200 hours of gameplay to reach 100% progress. New players should start out by having easy regular waves, with fewer threats and tougher (non-boss) enemies rarely showing up, but have to struggle for a bit with bosses due to their weak ship. Experienced players should get more fast-paced gameplay in regular waves, with high-rank enemies appearing every wave in larger numbers, but also being destroyed more easily thanks to the accumulated upgrades. Also because of their upgrades, they shouldn’t have to take a long time killing bosses, usually less than a minute, because they’ve already fought every boss dozens of times to get where they are, and most bosses aren’t profitable. Some of them, like Apple Core and Planetary Egg City can get you some extra firepower or keys, but those that consist of a single oversized Chicken provide nothing until they are destroyed, and even then, you just get some points, a few bits of food, and a chance at a powerup when they die.

To conclude, I’d like to suggest the following changes:

  • Restore how skill levels originally worked
  • New players start on Tourist skill level
  • double the prices for skill levels, because they truly offer a tremendous power boost that should be earned accordingly
  • increase required tiers for playing higher difficulty missions, by a factor of 5: tier 1 now should become tier 5, tier 2 now should become tier 10 and so on
  • key payout on higher tiers should be three times the tier level, instead of a flat 40: getting to tier 5 gives you 15 keys, getting to tier 6 gives 18 keys and so on

Collection of ideas liked by InterAction Studios
#2

I do think skill levels and difficulty needs balancing, but i also think that restoring it to how it was would make it worse, because SSH was too easy and too rewarding like that. What could be done is a skill level that is like the SSH from before, but less rewarding than even tourist. Reducing chickens health on harder missions could be a way to balance things, because the waves would still be hard, but you would not take so long on them, and SSH would be more balanced on those missions. If chickens had half their actual health, or even less, for example.
The tourist skill level being the standard doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
I think most prices should increase before the full release, to make keys useful for longer. I, for example, have half of the things i want with less than a week of gameplay.
i disagree with your idea for tier restriction.
i dont know about the rewards, a flat 40 seems like something that could be changed, but the value being flat may also be fine.
And i didn’t mention it before, but english is not my native language, so there may be some gramatical problems with my text.


#3

Not sure if SSH should be less rewarding than tourist. Like sophodot said,if you pay 1000 keys for the ssh difficulty,you’d expect to get rewarded for it,but currently,you just get a huge damage handicap. Tier restriction should be higher because the current tier restrictions mean literally nothing,since the highest one is for tier 4,and getting to that tier is extremely easy. Basically anyone can reach it,even though tier 4 missions certainly shouldn’t be played by just anyone. The flat 40 should be changed. Idk about you,but I certainly want bigger rewards the further I go.


#4

i do think SSH should be WAY more rewarding than tourist, like a 9x score multiplier instead of 3x, and more keys. What i meant is that there could be a difficulty like the SSH from before it was fixed, where you’d get 3x damage, instead of damage/3, but it should reward less than even tourist, it would be like a training skill level.
You have a point about the tier restriction and reward. Although, about the reward, i think considering it takes about the same amount of time to go from tier 30 to 31 and 31-32, the reward shouldn’t change much for higher tiers. Maybe include a key % modifier as another reward…


#5

Its ridiculous to fight vs the final Henterprise encounter and to have less health than the Mother hen-ship(along with the shell). Bosses not only need a change attacks, but also change a health.
The egg cannon is weaker than ever! The ‘‘stronger’’ version i meet is with only 3 atacks! After the red bolts(i think on 60% or 80% he activate it idk), and on 100% he just explodes without any retreating or something other. My criticisms to the bosses will be impartial until they are made to be more dangerous.


#6

I don’t think you get the idea. The idea is to have SSH increase your damage/reduce enemy health,not to have a brand new difficulty that would act like this. Like sopho. said,score is just a number,so that 9x score multiplier is nothing. And the small key increase isn’t really much.


#7

i understood the ideia, and i dont appreciate it, the new skill level was my idea to have a skill level where you’d have a lot more damage, because i dont think SSH should be that skill level, it should be the hardest, not the easiest skill level. And score can award you keys because of tiers, while also being a way to rank players, but with just a 3x multiplier when you take more than 3x the time to complete missions, you get more score over time playing on easier skill levels, which doesn’t make sense to me.


#8

But it’s not the hardest,it’s just the most time consuming. I don’t know about you,but I don’t feel like spending an hour on just 20 waves. That’s not testing your skill level,that’s just testing your patience. Yeah,more time to beat a wave does technically make it harder,but for the most part,it’s a patience test. The point here is that new players should play easier missions which have less powerful enemies,so you don’t really need a huge damage multiplier,while more skilled players should obviously play harder missions with more challenging and powerful enemies,but with a better damage multiplier so that it’s still possible to beat them(which you would get from ssh,if they take sophodot’s idea). Let’s be honest,some waves are just impossible on the current ssh,while others are just time-consuming.


#9

As i said in my first coment, lowering the chickens health on harder missions could be a way to balance things, it seems way better than making SSH the easiest difficulty. And i agree, right now, SSH is too much of a patience test for harder missions, although enjoyable for easier ones (which is a reason i think it could be also enjoyable in harder missions if chickens didn’t have so much health). Being honest, some waves are almost imposssible to pass deathless in rookie difficulty, if on SSH difficulty they were like that, i think it would be ok though (in other words, if the chickens health were lowered to the point that the actual seasoned or rookie skill level would be a SSH skill level for harder missions, only for harder ones though, easy ones feels balanced). I understand the purpose of making SSH increase your damage, so you can enjoy more harder missions, but i still think lowering chicken health would be a better way, while also making SSH more rewarding in terms of keys and score, because of its cost and the fact that its harder.


#10

Yeah,but then again,why would you use a thousand keys for a huge damage handicap? Doesn’t it make sense to actually get a boost for paying instead of a handicap,especially considering the slogan “I eat chickens for breakfast”? Even with more keys it feels like,overall,you still end up getting about the same amount of keys as you would in a lower skill level. The change sophodot recommended sounds perfectly balanced to me,but I’ll let him decide on this.


#11

First, I’d like to make some things clear, so that we speak on the same terms:

  • Difficulties in previous CI games were Rookie, Veteran and SSH

  • Difficulty in CIU is indicated by the tier required to play the mission, currently ranging from zero to four, and mainly affects what kind of enemies you’ll be seeing in regular waves (higher difficulty=higher-ranked enemies)

  • Skill levels in CIU are Tourist, Rookie, Seasoned, Veteran and SSH and, when equipped, affect the damage multiplier during missions

If I’m interpreting this correctly, @Sonic67, your vision for SSH is for it to remain the most difficult skill level, reduce damage to 0.33 as in previous games, and also as in previous games, increase score by 900%; but since current SSH is time-consuming, you also want enemy health reduced across the whole galaxy to make SSH more manageable in-game. Could that also work? Well, first, the only way score gets you keys is by increasing your tier, and in the future maybe by making the top 10, and if tiers require more and more points to achieve as you grow, and the amount of keys you get for each tier stays the same, it will eventually take too long to get to the next tier to make the extra time spent on SSH worthwhile. Now, you could also multiply the number of keys you get at the end of an SSH mission, but still, what you are buying now when you get SSH, and what you’d be buying with your idea is a trade-off, not an upgrade. You’re spending more time shooting at each chicken, killing fewer of them and getting some more points, and possibly keys out of it, but you will also definitely get less food.

Making enemies more difficult to kill is a mechanic used in nearly every game, but it needs to not cross certain limits to keep the game balanced and fun. Equipping SSH should give you only advantages and be used primarily in more difficult missions, to reap the most benefits. Playing on SSH on a lower tier mission won’t make it much easier than it already is, and give fewer rewards. Playing without SSH on a higher tier mission should still be possible and offer roughly the same rewards, but take longer to complete. With SSH allowing for faster kills, and higher difficulty throwing more potent enemies at you, I think the game becomes more engaging. Instead of trudging your way through some waves and watching enemies leave the screen after sponging up your damage in other waves, you can still keep a 90-95% kill ratio and still risk losing lives to some of the more dangerous enemies. For the later part of the leveling up, it’s all about making the gameplay flow faster to keep the experienced player under constant pressure, so that he doesn’t start getting bored from doing the same thing over and over again. You won’t keep people coming back to the game if they know that after all their efforts ranking up, they now have to shoot for twice as long at an enemy to kill it compared to when they first started.


#12

Similar thoughts. Higher skill levels should do things like

  • Enemies have slightly more health, i mean something like 25% more on SSH
  • Enemies shoot and move faster
  • Even more higher-tiered enemies will appear(?)
  • Less powerups will drop
  • You lose more firepower when dying
  • some enemies and bosses use more difficult attack patterns(?)

@InterAction_studios what do you think about it? I don’t really like that higher skill levels turn the game into a “clickfest” where you basically spam your mouse button or space bar for many minutes straight while the mission itself doesn’t really get harder


#13

That’s not exactly similar. The point was that the skill levels should be reverted to how they were before the update. Your suggestion still doesn’t give any sort of boost for those 1000 keys spent.


#14

In my idea, difficulty is represented by how many orange squares the mission has, ranging from 0 to 8.
You did interpret correct about i wanting SSH to remain the most difficult skill level, but to make it clear, only on the hard missions i want the chickens health to be lower.
Overall, what i most want is just that SSH remains the most difficult, and become the most rewarding skill level. I was just thinking on ways to make it balanced, reducing chickens health on hard missions being my best idea untill now.
As long as SSH is the most difficult and rewarding skill level, i’m fine, but making it increase the damage is the opposite, and doesn’t make sense to me if it also rewards more while being easier.
About expending for a handicap, i also want it to be quite more rewarding than the other skill levels to compensate the price and the challenge.
Finally, about tiers and its rewards, i dont have exactly an opinion about it.


#15

You didn’t get it. I want SSH to be an upgrade from where you would be without it, not make the game in any way more difficult, as you suggested. Before the patch, SSH was exactly that, an upgrade that amplified your damage. To put it simply: the power of your ship should be determined by the upgrades you equip; the game difficulty should be determined by the mission you choose to play. You also need to consider how long it would take to make all those changes.


#16

But why? It makes no sense to pay for a trade-off. If you pay for it,it should reward you by giving you a boost,not by making you waste more time. I understand,you want ssh to stay the way it used to be,but you can’t always keep everything the same way.


#17

This defeats the purpose of skill levels. Rename them to “damage amplifiers” then, which is also a good idea!


#18

Yeah,sure,rename them. I don’t mind. As long as buying it is worth it,and not a dumb trade-off.


#19

It’s meant to make the game harder and more rewarding. More points and keys, harder enemies. Right now it doesn’t seem like a good deal because of small difference in rewarding and making the enemies “bulletsponge”, but I’m sure that will change.


#20

i’m fine with a boost upgrade, but as an equipment/upgrade, not it being the a skill level, unless it gives you a penalty like tourist skill level. Basically, i prefer the idea that harder means more rewards for skill levels, i dont think of skill levels as an upgrade, getting more rewards for playing with an easier skill level does not make sense to me.
About the reward for paying for it, i’m fine with the challenge, i enjoy it, as long as its balanced, and is not a test of patience, but since i will have more trouble, feels fair that i get more rewards. And 1k keys is not even that much.