When I was young and just starting to play games in the late 80’s they were hard. Some of them were really hard and never ending (or at least I never got to the end). There are many different reasons games used to be hard. Limited amount of lives, limited amount of health, poor design ect. As the game market exploded, games became easier and easier. Many did this for the sole reason of reaching a larger audience, others because game mechanics and quality of life improved. Some examples of these game mechanics are being able to save anywhere and automatic health recovery.
There have been some large game releases that buck this trend however. Daemon Souls and the Dark Souls series are some examples of this. There are also a large library of games with small developers that set difficulty as one of the main mechanics of game play. Two with which I have played are “I Want to Be the Guy”(IWTBTG )and “Wizard Wizard”(WW).
“I Want to Be the Guy” and “Wizard Wizard” share many game mechanics other then their difficulty. Both games are side scroller, both are 1 hit and you die, both start you off at the beginning of the level when you die and both make you want to break something when you die to it for the 10th fricken time!
Even though they seem very similar there is a few differences. “Wizard Wizard” uses a pixalated art form. This art form has gotten popular for its retro style look and more games are adopting it. IWTBTG art is just bad, not much to say about it except that it uses sprites from other famous famous games like Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. Part of the experience of WW is the use of the pixel art as you navigate the world. IWTBTG is something 5 old you would draw on a Sunday morning, nothing special and quickly forgotten.
IWTBTG and WW also play a bit differently. In IWTBTG you are meant to die and you die a lot. There are so many hidden things that will kill you throughout a level that it takes a while to memorize them all. And that’s all it is. You run through a level and die and then try it again until you don’t. You learn the path and a bit of the timing and you win. The difficulty is in the learning the path part but once you have it the game is not so bad. From my playing of WW it is a lot more fair. There are a few spot that will kill you because you didn’t know things would jump out or would fall but the majority of the time its about timing you jumps to collect the keys and make it to the gate. Both games are similar in that their difficulty but their approach to the difficulty is different.
The last game that I played is “Don’t Shit Your Pants”. This game has almost nothing in common with the others. First is a text based game in which you can only do a handful of things. It all takes place in 1 level and last no more than a few minutes. The point of the game is to make it to the bathroom, take off your pants, and shit in the toilet. Easy right? Well I wont say that is the main game. The main game is finding all the achievements in going about not shitting your pants. You mostly type stuff in and see what happens. There are no hints, you have to explore the mind of the developer and try things that you think he would put in. For example at the start of the game you can simply say ‘Shit’ and the game ends and you get an achievement. Next you can try to sit on the toilet without taking off your pants and shitting, another achievement.
During this lab I played a game and then watched my partner play. There has to be something said for watching a game being played.Watching game streams has become big business for streamers and the streaming service. However watching a streamer and watching your partner play are a bit different. For starters when you see someone next to you playing and dying to the same thing over and over it kind of makes me irrationally angry. Like HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT YOU CANT GO THAT WAY FOR THE 10TH FRICKEN TIME!? But seriously watching someone play you get to pay more attention to whats happening because you don’t have to worry about the controls and moving the character around. I usually am able to see a strategy faster by watching someone else play rather than playing myself. Watching someone else play can also be relaxing since you don’t have to deal with the stress of dying over and over again, this comes from mostly watching streamers. You can just watch the screen and enjoy the game rather then worrying about the mechanics. Playing the game, however, is much more fun and I would vastly prefer to play than watch someone.