Project:Blue Room is an experiment, designed to measure player skill and difficulty in a single-player game. It is a simple, short, single player game designed to test the player's abilities over a few levels. This is the second phase of Project:Blue Room.

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Project:Blue Room is designed as an experiment to measure player skill. If we know a player's skill, we can adapt the game's difficulty to match. To do this, we need to be able to control the game's difficulty with precision. Half-Life 2's original code gives three difficulties: Easy, Medium and Hard. This doesn't give us much leeway - a player struggling on Medium may find Easy a walk in the park.

The difficulty settings in Half-Life 2

Choosing a Difficulty

To help us with this, we modified the game to allow for an arbitrary number between 0 and 1.0 to be selected (which we present to players as a percentage). A difficulty of 0 is really easy, and 1.0 (100%) the hardest. This means we can pick difficulties at much smaller intervals, giving us greater control in our experiments:

Different difficulties are assigned to each game.

Because the difficulty system in Project:Blue Room is based on the Source engine's, there is some association between the two. 50% difficulty was designed to be similar to Medium, and Easy is equivalent to about 20% difficulty. The main difference between the two (other than the greater control), and one of the main requirements for our experiment, is there is a much greater range of difficulties. Some players of Half-Life 2 games found Hard to be less than challenging at times, and Easy could still challenge beginners. We wanted much greater flexibility in our game. Which meant hard had to be really hard, and easy should be forgiving to your average grandma.

So we made it like that. We developed it so that 100% difficulty really required some thought and some experience of the game. Taking damage was something you had to avoid, unused health packs became something you carried around, and ammo was barely enough to kill what you had to. Conversely, 0% difficulty was a breeze to anyone who has played Half-Life 2 before. You could still beat the game if you fired all your bullets at the wall and then stood in front of a firing squad.

Every new game in Project:Blue Room is assigned one of these random difficulties, and it could be anywhere between excruciatingly easy and painfully hard. So if you're struggling, or you're bored, start a new game and try it again. That's what this experiment is all about!

An example of how stats were scaled in Project:Blue Room.Difficulty Mechanics

Most of the game mechanics we used to alter the game difficulty were the same as those in the original game, (e.g. damage dealt and damage taken). However, we had to adapt it to cope with our continuous values of difficulty. In Half-Life 2, for instance, the player takes half as much damage on Easy as Medium, and 1.5 times as much on Hard. Project:Blue Room uses equations so that any value of difficulty can be assigned a scaling factor:


The biggest addition to the engine, however, was level adaptability. The original game uses easy things to modify the difficulty - ammo, damage taken, extra grenades. We made the level change according to the difficulty. Rather simple things for the most part, like removing crates, or changing which enemies spawn, but this was done more as a proof of concept, and has great potential for other, Source-based games.

Difficulty

The Potential of Project:Blue Room

The next phase of the project is to pick these difficulties for players automatically. So our poor players don't have to walk away frustrated and feeling inferior, or that we designed a game not worth their time. So version 2 will incorporate some dynamic difficulty adjustment (still no difficulty selection!)

After the project is complete, I do intend to re-release the game with the difficulty options open for players to select as they wish. So if players want to see what it's like to play the game on the hardest or easiest difficulties, they can. I also hope to release the source code, so other games can take advantage of the difficulty system we implemented (and improve it).

Statistics in Project:Blue Room

Statistics in Project:Blue Room

News

We record many events in Project:Blue Room for our research, and this allows us to create an image of the player's game after they have finished.

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Project:Blue Room - Phase II

Project:Blue Room - Phase II

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The second phase of Project:Blue Room is here! Most changes to this game are behind the scenes, so likely won't be noticeable to most players.

Project:Blue Room v1.03

Project:Blue Room v1.03

Full Version 1 comment

A minor patch to fix bugs involving level changes.

Project:Blue Room v1.01

Project:Blue Room v1.01

Full Version

It is ready! Participate in Project:Blue Room now, and find out how good you really are.

Comments  (0 - 10 of 41)
pivip
pivip

Can anyone turn on that server and make mod playable again?

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12halo31469984993
12halo31469984993

it wont let me start cause it cant connect to the server

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Dune_Jumper
Dune_Jumper

For some reason the mod keeps freezing for me. Every few seconds it just locks up for a second and goes back to normal. This is in all versions. If I look at my CPU usage, I can see it keeps dipping to practically zero when playing the mod.

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Guest
Guest

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Guest
Guest

Hi, I've finished two play throughs of this but the statistics are all messed up. Progress doesn't show correctly and I've apparently finished each test in 0.0seconds. Additionally the game stutters and freezes a lot.

I am on windows 10.

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Druckles Creator
Druckles

I'm afraid some changes were made to improve response time for statistics, but they haven't been reflected in some places (I simply haven't gotten round to updating them yet). The server is unfortunately quite slow, which is also why it stutters.

As for the difficulty, I'm afraid I haven't updated the website to show the difficulties for each game. That's also semi-intentional to avoid priming.

When October rolls around, I will have a chance to fix all these minor issues and potentially release a stand-alone version of the mod that doesn't need to talk to the server. It will also allow you to select your own type of difficulty selection for each game.

The fact that the two difficulties were so similar is completely by chance (and means I might be doing something right ;-) ). For your own reference, the difficulty for both games was about 57% (depending what level you were on). The difficulty of the last level, for instance, is scaled down significantly.

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BlueDuck
BlueDuck

good game but it keep freezing up on me throught the game.

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Druckles Creator
Druckles

The server should be back up now. Please let me know if there are any issues with it.

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ferdyfist
ferdyfist

It seems like the server is still down?

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Druckles Creator
Druckles

A new version will be released within the next few days. Once that happens, the server will be up again. Unfortunately, older versions of the game will no longer work.

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ferdyfist
ferdyfist

Alright! I also wondered a bit why this requires HL2 installed, contrary to Source 2013?

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Druckles Creator
Druckles

It relies on many of Half-Life 2's assets, unfortunately.

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ferdyfist
ferdyfist

Those follow Source SDK 2013 Singleplayer, if I'm not mistaken. I am able to run HL2's maps from Source 2013 MP, only having to place the bsp file in the maps folder.
The only reason I'm asking, is because Source 2013 is free, where HL2 is not therefor you might expand your player base.

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Highest Rated (3 agree) 9/10

A fantastically designed game, if I am to say so myself.

Great level design, great puzzles and fine pacing; even if it's pretty short, I'd say it's worth playing.

Although, I had some technical difficulties, it in now way stopped me from playing the game, so it's fair to say it's bug-free.

Feb 18 2015 by Lolcomputer

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