Playing with risk

Shovel Knight does a fun thing with checkpoints, it lets you destroy them for money.


The game pays you for increasing the stakes, you get a bunch of money but if you die you have a lot more ground to recover. This is one of many ways Shovel Knight lets the player take on greater risks for greater rewards. One of it’s other favorite ways of doing this is making some of the hardest parts of the game optional, but each has the promise of riches should you succeed. It is constantly introducing meaningful trade offs for the player to consider.

It clearly isn’t the only game that plays around with checkpoints, another game that does this in an even more brilliant way is They Bleed Pixels.


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Five Incredible Opening Acts in Video Games

It’s not easy making a good first impression. Gamers don’t like to wait. We like our action, our adventure, and we want it all now. While many games take a long time to show their best moments, there are rare instances where the game hooks you from the start. Making those opening moments valuable can mean a lot to keeping a gamer’s attention. Here are five games that know how to make a good first impression.

Go see them!

I remember the first time I played Super Mario 64, I tried to jump over the fence into the moat completely expecting to hit an invisible wall. I didn’t hit an invisible wall and in fact went diving into the moat.

"Oh, I guess you can do whatever."

(Reblogged from gamingfeminism)

Relative, Absolute, and Initial Difficulty

Talking about difficulty again.

Pretend you’ve never seen a Rubik’s cube, now imagine trying to solve a 5x5 Rubix’s cube. That is difficult right? Now, what if I started you off on a 3x3, or even a 2x2 cube, and then had you work your way up to a 5x5 after you solved every smaller size cube. I could even give you tips and pointers, show you strategies and point out mistakes you were making. Now the challenge of the 5x5 cube is no different from an objective standpoint, it is no less complex, but now that you have the knowledge and skill set to deal with that complexity and so it isn’t as difficult for you.

Absolute Difficulty is like how high something is from sea level, relative difficulty is how high something is from where you are standing. The difficulty curve is how hard a game is over the course of the entire game (Absolute Difficulty/Time) but to the player the difficulty they are going to notice is going to be the slope of that curve at what ever point in the game they are at, this is the relative difficulty.


Now games actually have a huge advantage over other media (movies, books…) in terms of being able to control relative difficulty because games are interactive. A game can change and adapt to the player, if they seem to be having a hard time the game can make it self easier, or if the player is bored by how easy the game is it can be made harder.

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mtgfan said: Have you covered The Dark Room? Why is that game so compelling?

Always something to do (or you are always about to be able to do something as the ever increasing bars will attest to), goals clearly laid out for you to keep you focused, an ever increasing mechanical vocabulary that grows naturally upon itself so the things you do never get to feel stale…

Just a straight up solid game.

Edit: Wait, did you mean A Dark Room or The Dark Room? Because I’m not sure what The Dark Room is. I’ll find out.

Double Edit: This Game? Never heard of it. I’ll try it out.

Tripple Edit: It was A Dark Room.


Satoshi Kon - Editing Space & Time

Tony Zhou : “Four years after his passing, we still haven’t quite caught up to Satoshi Kon, one of the great visionaries of modern film. In just four features and one TV series, he developed a unique style of editing that distorted and warped space and time. Join me in honoring the greatest Japanese animator not named Miyazaki.”

Satoshi Kon is my favorite creator.  I love so many, like Miyazaki, but… Just watch his work. Watch all of them.  I will never be able to gush enough about Satoshi Kon, so do yourself a favor by watching some animation.

Not gaming but is just really good series about exploring and understanding film editing techniques.

(Source: ca-tsuka)

(Reblogged from jigglykat)
[A]s more and more women start speaking up about the harassment they face online, it’s time to start realizing that our narrative of progress is deeply flawed. Things aren’t getting better for women on the Internet; they’re deteriorating and ignoring the problem amounts to being complicit in it.
(Reblogged from discovergames)

How hard should achievements be?




I haven’t talked about achievements in a long time and that is a shame because they are actually super interesting. They can do many things such as be used as a tool for teaching players advanced mechanics, for example TF2 loves to do this with achievements that teach you special tricks for each class.


But today I’d like to talk a bit about aspiratory achievements, achievements that want to push you beyond the scope of simply completing the game. The great thing about these kinds of achievements is that they give players something to do with the game after the beating it, they give the player a chance to push their skills beyond what the game would normally expect of them. This gives people more time, doing new things, with games they like.

This can great in intermediate step towards players speed running even. When asked what got them into speed running many simply say that there was this game they thought they were good at wanted to try and push themselves. By having hard aspirational achievements it gives players something to shoot for in between being able to beat a game and being able to speed run a game.

This does lead to the question though of how hard aspirational achievements should be. Very hard aspirational achievements can give people more to shoot for, more to aspire to, but they can also be incredibly daunting.

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My feelings on achievements have evolved over the years. At first I just didn’t “get it,” and couldn’t understand why a little meaningless blip at the bottom of the screen was so important to people. Now, I think I understand the basic joy in that, even if I rarely chase achievements.

More importantly, as OP noted, I think achievements can be used by developers to subtly (and optionally) guide players towards doing desirable things, like mastering certain mechanics or poking around the world a little more. I know for me, when I see an achievement that looks easily doable, so long as I use more dodge attacks or go off the beaten path a few times, I’ll gladly do it.

However, the subject of the OP was the upper-tier aspirational achievements, which are definitely a different animal. While those affect completionists who can’t help themselves, I usually see them more as a compact between the developers and their most rabid, ardent fans. It’s like the developer saying, “If you love our game so much that you are replaying it multiple times and mastering it, we want to give you something special, to both reward your loyalty and to give you a reason to keep striving and coming back for more.”

That’s a rosier view than I would normally take, and maybe even a bit naive, but that’s the way I see it. And in that case, I suppose the achievements should be as hard as the fans want it, in order to give them the challenge they want. It’s not a very specific answer, but it’s definitely a case-by-case kinda thing. 

I actually oftentimes ignore developer directed achievements and make my own based on my take on the protagonist or whatever I feel like mucking around with.

Eg: Tales of Symphonia has different protagonists you can play as. If I play as the researcher, I try to talk to every NPC and read every book in the libraries. If I play as the impatient and bored teen swordsman, I try to speed run dungeons.

That has me thinking about the feasibility of open sourced achievements, kinda like enabling modding.

People make achievements for the game and upload them (only after having been able to complete it themselves), people vote on how interesting and fun they are and how hard they are to get (or their difficulty could be based on how many people have achieved them).

A fun and systematic way to share community ideas and challenges.

(Reblogged from damedebugger)


The whole SciShow office is so freaking stoked about this it’s adorable. To be clear, I also have not been this excited about a movie (that wasn’t based on my brother’s book) since Deathly Hallows.

(Reblogged from edwardspoonhands)


Retro games typically have very modern design aesthetics. Shovel Knight for example is typically called retro:


and it is certainly a pixally 2D platformer. Everything beyond that though, how the game is set up, plays, teaches and guides the player, makes it a very modern take on the 2D platformer.

For instance when you die the game takes a couple handfuls of money for you but then puts them back where you died so that you can pick them up should you get back to that point. This mechanic is very reminiscent of Dark Souls’ system for punishing death where it gives the player a chance to redeem themselves and a reason to try to do so. Still challenging but not as punishing.


This is a modern way of dealing with a player’s defeat. Older arcade style games would of had a set amount of lives the player had and would make them start over after losing them all. Shovel Knight doesn’t have a maximum number of times you can fail, it just taxes you a bit for doing so.

Design wise, this game is far more modern then most AAA games.