What does it mean for a game to be challenging? That’s the question that the Pantheon devs tackle in their latest dev diary. While many games choose to focus on technical challenge — for example, testing players’ reaction times or ability to input complex button combinations — Pantheon is taking a different route, putting “less burden on nimble fingers and more on what [the devs] call strategic depth: designing gameplay based around a longer-term curve that asks players to make decisions not based purely on reaction time, but by increasing players’ long-term reward or lowering their long-term risk based on a growing knowledge of the game.”
In discussing how this is implemented into the game itself, the devs give the example of the game’s Disposition system, which “will give NPCs a change to spawn with one of many possible Dispositions, granting them unique strengths, weaknesses, and behavioral qualities.” Players will have to become familiar with the various dispositions and what their capabilities are in order to overcome the game’s challenges and become more skilled at the game as a whole.
The devs also note that this system should add an extra degree of immersion to the game, as even friendly NPCs can have their own “dispositions” of sorts that will determine their behavioral patterns based on the gameplay situations that evolve around them. It’s an interesting read, and if you want to check out the details — and catch up on Pantheon’s development progress while you’re at it — be sure to read the whole dev diary over at the game’s official site.