Ludus Novus 004: Hurt Me Plenty

Ludus Novus
Ludus Novus
Ludus Novus 004: Hurt Me Plenty

Difficulty and completeness: Why do games have to be hard, and how is finishing a game separate from completing it?

The music for this episode is “Big Bad World One” by Jonathan Coulton, and is available under a cc by-nc-sa 2.5 license.

This episode, unlike most, is available under a cc by-nc-sa 2.5 license.


The next episode will be about the length of games and how that relates to game classification. Is there a distinction between an interactive “short story” and an interactive “novel”? If you have comments or ideas, contact me at

4 thoughts on “Ludus Novus 004: Hurt Me Plenty

  1. With save/restore considered, there’s still two painful aspects of dying in games in my opinion… The first is just psychological and could be merely the result of someone growing up with games that end when you die. I always wince when I die in a game, even when I know it’s coming or when, for example, in a work of interactive-fiction, I’m doing it to explore a possible way of advancing the game even though it may or may not lead to death. This is what I consider just a natural aversion to death. The second is that on some games (I’ve got a specific in mind here–Descent 3) when you die it takes a horrifically long time to get back into the action. You can see this in multiplayer games, too, in the spawn-time. You’ve got better things to do than sit around and wait for the game to start again. That’s why I keep a book, magazine, or second PC handy!

  2. Yeah, respawn time is a deterrent to death, but at the cost of being really annoying. Games are usually supposed to be fun, but when you have to resort to reading a book while waiting, the designer’s done something wrong. I haven’t played Prey yet, but I like the idea; you’re taken out of the action, and have to work to get back in, but you’re not bored or annoyed (hopefully… I haven’t seen the implementation).

  3. I’ve been playing GTA:San Andreas. There are so many different “goals” that I sometimes lose track of what I’m supposed to be doing. Getting 100% will be …um… impossible! I have in the past used game guides to find out what I missed, or to get past a stuck point. Sometimes I look up hints and FAQs for a game so I don’t have to go through boring parts (like trying every single combo in the alchemy pot in DragonQuest 8). Since I play games for fun, I decided a long time ago that it was up to me to decide what constituted “winning” and “cheating.”

  4. Oh, yeah. I’m a firm believer that if 100% completion or something like that is part of a game, the developers should include a way to check what you’ve done. It doesn’t need to give anything away; you can just say which Secret Packages have been collected by number, or have ??? marks for uncollected items… as long as the user can tell what she’s done and what she hasn’t.

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