Preset v. Derived Challenge

Some games have challenges in different aspects. I’m just trying to make it clearer so we could move on in the design of these things.

First of all, let’s define these two terms:

Preset Challenge: This type of challenge is set by the designer. It is particularly designed to test the player and their abilities up to this point in the game / situation.

Derived Challenge: This is a type of challenge that is derived by the systems set up inside the game. It could be how certain randomly / consciously activated situations set themselves up to challenge the player in different ways. This is very common in multiplayer games.

Now my issue now is to pick and choose if I want to set them up. In a game like No Longer Apart, aMazing Bible,  and the upcoming Cosmic Defender, these challenges were done in a Preset fashion. This was because we decided to put the emphasis on enemy placement and level design as a means to challenge the player. With the upcoming titles such as Exit to Strainite: Just and my previously released Number + Matrix, I had set up situations that were randomly / algorithmically set up to challenge the player. With Just, I am trying to bring in a mix of both with puzzle style level designs as well as a mix of combat and sim elements that act in a more derived challenge way. As well as in the [game title removed] project, I am trying to set up an algorithm that could be tracked as in a preset challenge style but has a derived feel to it.

Alternatively in Derek Yu’s Spelunky, there is an algorithm that sets up a level for you to play based around many preset challenges but due to the random mixup of them, it becomes a derived challenge if the situations are right. This is an aspect that many rogue-like games share. But one thing to make sure of is to not confuse on the topic of user generated content. If a player makes a level / setup, they are now a designer. So it still applies to the terms I have defined.

I am just curious as to how everyone feels about the different types of challenge in a game.

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