I’ve read one too many “git gud” posts arguing that challenge is essential to games and that including an easy mode on, say, Dark Souls would ruin it; if you don’t want a hard game, don’t play Dark Souls. They’re wrong. Firstly, challenge isn’t an inherent aspect of games: it’s just one way of evoking certain player responses. Challenge is partly a personal preference thing: some people want a smooth experience and I do think that Dark Souls is a poor choice for that, and that experiencing Dark Souls as a cake walk won’t let you understand Dark Souls.
In my patron-sponsored post on Minecraft I talked about the philosophy of Minecraft mods and play in general, but I didn’t go much into the actual rules or design of the factory and automation play in those mods.
I’ve abandoned the “FTB Resurrection” modpack in favor of “FTB Infinity” (GregTech is just too vague and cruel). This has actually let me get into some limited automation, which has been interesting.
The title of “hardcore gamer” is not an identity; it is a temporary state of being. Many people start playing video games, and some of them keep playing more and more of them until they develop skills and tastes that place them into the “hardcore” category. Hardcore gamers stay hardcore for years or decades, and then their reflexes fade or their interests shift and they find themselves enjoying different things.
There’s this mistaken feeling among players who self-identify as “hardcore” that they’ve been left behind, that there’s this shift in the culture of development that has abandoned them. This is mostly nonsense. It’s true that for about a decade, most every game was made for a hardcore player… but that decade was the worst one in the history of video game design. Continue reading The Myth of Hardcore→
I twitted that “restarting a long multi-screen level on death” and “limited lives” are examples of retro mechanics that should stay dead. I thought that I would expand a bit on what I meant.
In part, this is a corollary to my past writings on challenge and punishment. In my definition, challenge is when a task is difficult to accomplish because it requires a high amount of skill, ability, or experience. Punishment is when failing a task imposes a burden on the player, usually in the form of lost time. Continue reading The Obsolescence of Lives→
The other night, I picked up Gaijin Games’s Bit.Trip Runner for WiiWare. This game is the best example of pure, brilliant game design that I’ve seen in a good while. This is the game designer as teacher and leader; it’s what Anna Anthropy calls design as sadism:
As a designer and as a domme, I want the person who submits to me to suffer and to struggle but ultimately to endure: I challenge her while simultaneously guiding her through that challenge. The rules of the game and the level design carry that idea.
Runner does this through the gradual layering of new game elements, high challenge with low punishment, and optional bonus goals. Most of all, though, it guides through repetition. This is a game about rhythm, after all. For my favorite example of this, let’s look at a single measure of rhythm from the game, no longer than 2 seconds, that appears everywhere. Continue reading One Measure of Bit.Trip Runner→