Failure happens. In reality and in games. Retry. Cancel. These are common choices. But sometimes if the player gets stuck in some stage of a game, he may even never want to touch that game again. And when he thinks of the game, all he can recall is the frustration that comes with many trials in vain, and it just feels like he has spent time and patience and gained nothing, neither in game nor in reality. In fact, if he were to watch some video, he may even use the wasted time for something else. On thought of this, he may grow a general hate towards a certain genre of games, or even all the games. Maybe he will quit using game for his life.
One may say, game is not for everyone. Some people can gain enough positive feedbacks to keep the scroll rolling, while to someone else maybe it will just end with broken joysticks. So maybe, a gamer should feel lucky to be still interested in the games.
But we shouldn't be advocating this as a principle to scare non-gamers away. Games should be challenging, but never be frustrating. If gamers are to be just a small group of people, then games won't mean much to deliver more meanings, as few will have the chance to see them. Although interactive, the game would lose its influence compared to other medias. And that's unacceptable and technologically ridiculous.
So what if the so-called failure panic happens? A gamer will gradually become more afraid of spending more time but still can't make any progress. If this situation were to happen in real life, there's gotta be alternatives for it, but in game it's a now-or-never situation, as games are always made with simple logic. The answer is in the hand of level designers, but for the gamers it's like a bet, a bet to put more time and effort in it to unlock later possible events or just waste everything into the black hole.
In RPG there's always a solution of leveling up by beating more lesser enemies. But this is but another retreat, and maybe people using trainers are more wise to not waste time on the leveling-up lie. If a game can always be completed by leveling-up, then is there anything that can be called difficulty? Perhaps it's just some people can pick to fight efficient monsters and become faster. So for RPG, the punishment for lack of strategy is about wasting more time beating monsters.
And for other game types, stuck in game always means a hard puzzle. One have to be enough experienced to solve it, and some people find it easier when they have finished other games. Perhaps it reminds them of something: Life itself, or for gaming skill, it also needs to level up. Other games or life experiences can be regarded as lesser enemies.
But is it that when we face with hard puzzles for now, we will never be able to solve it after mere tries? Maybe there's a way. Remember what you feel when that happens? Emotions. Like anger and blaming oneself. And confidence, accumulated by solving problems in such situations in the past. This is what can be called independent thinking. One then will think he is invincible. Some will pay attention to the details and rules in the repeat, and eventually finds the hint.
So, for level designers, it's not about creating shortcuts for those who would give up after several tries, but to wake up the independent thinking inside of them. A game should be not only providing the answer, but also filling the reasoning in along the way. Be considerate, and give the gamers some lemon when they are thirsty, but never to provide the water directly.
Another thing that bothers gamers is saving the progress. The phrase checkpoint rush is about player in the FPS game who always becomes reckless after a checkpoint-saved hint, but becomes a coward when haven't saved for a long time, some even have developed a sense for checkpoints, which is so funny in some way.
In reality, there are no checkpoints. When things happen, there's no way back. But in games, it always take hours to beat the game, if they are all designed in old school styles, it could take forever to beat the game. So checkpoint mechanism is for saving gamers some time. But gamers on the opposite, begin to use checkpoint as chances of re-drawing cards.
In a card game, one has to keep the cards after he draws, but gamer in checkpoint can replace the cards as many times they like, all they have to do is to wait for the level to be loaded again. It's like using some time of reality as a price, just to get a good start for the next part of the game. It sounds legit, but still will somehow encourage gamers to take chances. And that's not a good signal.
As the paragraphs above have mentioned, the failure panic and checkpoint rush are all old-fashioned designs which will encourage the player to spend more unnecessary time for an easier game. Speaking of spending time, yes, we all have to as we play the game. But I don't think it good to provide the player some tricks other than thinking with the core puzzle mechanics that the game delivers.
Games are always described as a waste of time. No wonder. Because both the developers and gamers are using tricks for the games. If it's an easy game that the player wants, then just provide him with some. Don't make a decent hardcore game and using tricks to make player feel successful. Using hints, consider more, create puzzles with more logic. In this way, can our games win a good fame other than wasting time.
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