They Bleed Pixels: Path to hardcore-ific
I like They Bleed Pixels, they do a lot of interesting things and do them well but I’m pretty much going to gloss over them and move straight to what it does to help foster a hardcore community. Typically what prevents people from trying to be the hardcore-est is that it is a huge task with a tremendous amount of effort and not much reward unless you are the best. They Bleed Pixels tries to get around this by giving a clear path from casual to hardcore which gets more people to try and make the leap regardless if they think they will stick with it long enough to make it to the top. Heres a three ways in which they do this:
A player goes from casual to hardcore because they enjoy a game and because they think they are getting good at it. They start to feel really good at the game and this propels them to get better. The problem is the gap between casual and hardcore players of the same game is huge and very few will even try because the gap is so large and requires such a tremendous commitment to even try and participate in that community. You can make the transition easier by giving the players incremental goals beyond just beating the game to archive on the way to the hardcore. Grading how well a player does allows the players to know how they are stacking up (amongst casuals at least) and gives them something to work on in the short term. It also gets them to replay levels for a better grade and replaying levels is the first step to hardcore-itute.
How long did it take you to beat that level? What is your best score? By simply including these statistics you can make it easier for people to brag about how good they are and thus propel them to greater acts. Posting up the best scores also lets them know how well they stack up against everyone and doesn’t force them to search message boards for who is the best with what time and bullshit you didn’t do it that fast PROVE IT.
This is a convenience thing, certainly the lack of in game timing or a global scoreboard hasn’t stopped Mario 64 from having it’s own hardcore community, but the goal is to make the game hard, not to make enjoying the game hard. Not including it is an unnecessary obstacle between the player and hardcore-dom.
Often times, casual players won’t even be aware a hardcore community exists for a game. This is because the community and the achievements of the best are held not in game but on forums that the player would have to go searching for (and there might be competing communities). By putting the records up after a level is completed you not only reward players for being hardcore but let the casuals know that it exists and spark their interest in such communities. Also, I like how they had two leaderboards, 1 for time trial and 1 for points. The game can be played in multiple ways and this acknowledges that.
So there you go, 3 easy things They Bleed Pixels does that every game can do that would help foster a hardcore community for their game.