Monday, March 4, 2013

Vignettes of an Indie Game Dev: Super "Addicting" Meat Boy

I was playing Super Meat Boy last night, (while also increasing my chances of getting carpal tunnel), and I am proud to say that I am ranked number 124 out of over 94 thousand people on level 14 in stage “Hell”.  I stayed up all night replaying the same level over and over again just to better my previous time by just fractions of a second.  But then it struck me, what sort of thing promotes my mind into actually trying to beat each level of this game with as low of a time as possible?  Why do I continue to progress through a game that makes me want to slam my head into a wall just so I can enjoy the experience of going into a coma and wake up without any recollection of what Super Meat Boy actually is?  Is it because every time I die in the game I undergo a better understanding of what to do with certain elements of each level, thus continuing to learn while failing?  Or is it because, to me, the game is a fight and, as a nerd, I have never won, albeit never been in a fight before, and that this game makes me feel a small inkling of what being beat down by a flurry of punches then rising to overcome an opponent must feel like, similar to what Rocky Balboa underwent?  I think it’s both, but the former statement is where I want this conversation to head, so we’re going to run with that.  This game is so cruel, so bitter, that it makes me want to throw my controller at the TV so hard for the small hope that it would come out the other end of the developer’s PC and smack him into the same world of pain and agony that I am currently imprisoned in while playing.  However, I keep playing because I know that the puzzle I am locked in is, in fact, POSSIBLE.  It hits that perfect sweet spot of being both frustrating and addicting because you know exactly what to do and how to do it, it’s just a matter of implementing your thumbs to move at the right second, or in this game’s case, millisecond.  This is exactly what all games need to implement into their design; a feeling of hope that there is a way, without the metaphorical bars of cheap frustration that may cause a player to rage-quit too soon.  This is what our game needs to be successful, and what it needs to keep a loyal, enraged fan-base.  If we hit the same sweet spot Super Meat Boy did with our game, I’ll be expecting to see numerous controllers eject out of my computer screen targeting my head.  Let’s try to make it happen; I’m ready for the barrage.

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