But you kept playing and that matters

Azuriel is upset about a game called Dead Cells. I don’t know the game, but he describes his problem pretty well: the game has half an hour content from start to finish, but it took him 26 hours to kill the last boss, because it has a harsh death penalty: you lose your progress and have to start the game again.

So he went in again and again until he got lucky with drops (if the boss have no timer or you die before the timer is up, damage reduction and heals beat any combo) and killed it.

Then proceeded to whine how empty and bad it feels, therefore designers are wrong. “But I know for a fact that I would have enjoyed Dead Cells more had I beaten the last boss two runs earlier than I did two runs later. ”

Dear Azuriel and dear lurking devs: nobody cares if you (the players of your game) enjoy the game. What matter is that you kept playing. Had you killed the last boss 2 runs earlier, you’d abandoned the game an hour earlier. Difficulty isn’t about “having fun”. Naked costumes, mailboxes, dance emotes and the ability to write “Anal [Eviscerate]” on global chat is created for “having fun”. Difficulty is needed to keep playing and give a sense of accomplishment and exclusivity.

Do you think Marathon runners are having fun at the 30 km mark? But they still show up at the race, without anyone paying them, as a hobby. They keep running because it’s hard. Because it’s an accomplishment.

You can tell whatever you want Azuriel, actions speak louder: you kept playing until you killed the boss!

Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

15 thoughts on “But you kept playing and that matters”

  1. I played Final Fantasy 7 from Square Soft… I mean I PLAYED THE HELL OUT OF IT.

    The ultimate boss was a completely optional one… “Ruby Weapon.” You could easily beat the game without even fighting it.

    I spent at LEAST a hundred hours… perhaps 200… leveling my guys to the ULTIMATE LEVEL OF POWER in order to even have a chance against that unholy monstrosity. The fight? A merciless RNG fest where you chain multi cast a spell called “Knights of the round” until you get totally lucky and Ruby Weapon dies.

    The final fight where I finally killed it took several HOURS. hours of getting lucky every time. And that was after dying over and over.

    So don’t even come to me with some lame “26 hours to kill a boss” crap. If it keeps you engaged? It’s win!

    Oh, Gev… it’s the same with you and Subnautica. It kept you engaged, da?

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  2. What matter is that you kept playing. Had you killed the last boss 2 runs earlier, you’d shelf the game an hour earlier.

    So I’d go from 26 hours to 25 hours, and then… what? It’s a single-player indie game. There’s no subscription, no “25+ hours of content!” claim. Why would any dev care about how long the game is played (past the refund point)? They already have the customer’s money.

    As for the sense of “accomplishment,” as I wrote: I felt none. The last boss is overtuned, and I’m fairly certain it will be (indirectly) nerfed in the next update. And even if accomplishment was important to the devs for some reason, there are four more difficulty levels. Defeating the last boss lets you kick up the difficulty via “Boss Cells,” which you accumulate as you continue defeating the final boss. Stronger enemies appear sooner, you have less ability to heal inbetween levels, and so on. I even did a run on the higher difficulty, but stopped once I realized I would be soon out of fun part of the game – everything before the final boss – and back to the final boss shenanigans.

    Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean the difficulty was implemented intelligently. Difficulty curves are supposed to be smooth. The one in Dead Cells is not. Even the players who get off on hard games would be disappointed in Dead Cells, because it’s not really that consistently difficult. Or maybe it gets there at 2+ Boss Cells, I don’t know. All that I know is that these devs will get lukewarm word-of-mouth from from me rather than a glowing review. I hope that extra hour of gameplay was worth it to them.

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  3. It is a curious issue: Do I enjoy the game or do I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. I played Borderlands 2 and had a great time on the first run though, wiped about 6 times before I felt it was a good run. Yet when I played the next level up (which is just harder) I just wasn’t as interested. For me the game was a matter of accomplishment rather than enjoyment. Eve on the other hand I enjoy just logging in. I could care or less about the stuff you hate, I have talked to the devs, I fought the goons, PL, NC who ever and what not, and really just don’t care. If I shoot someone tonight great, if I mine some ore, great, if I do a trade great, that’s all bonus for me the optimal game is one I can enjoy doing what ever it is that I end up doing. I know how not to feed, I know how to kill, and I know the other tricks and I use them as needed. I have no grand plan other than to log in tomorrow and continue a slow march to some far off goals that if I reach wonderful I will reset and make new goals.

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  4. Erm, no. What matters here is not that the man kept playing. This is not a game that gets money out of more people playing it. What matters here is whether he’ll buy more of these types of games in the future.

    And, given the account, he may actually not. Because the game, not just didn’t allow him to have fun the way he wanted to, but even straight up betrayed his expectations by being (relatively) easily beaten through an “un-fun” item combo.

    Difficulty is about expecting the game to subvert your expectations and deriving enjoyment from situations where the game thwarts all your best laid plans, until you decide to use that one little thing you’be been overlooking all along. The blogpost author has demonstrated that he can’t stand being proven wrong in that way.

    What can i say – truly difficult games are not for him.

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  5. @Azuriel
    “Even the players who get off on hard games would be disappointed in Dead Cells”
    Metascore of 90%. Bestseller on switch and steam for almost a month. Facts tend to disagree with you.

    It took me about 12 hours to beat it the first time and yeah, I haven’t played it afterwards (I found that later difficulties are too extreme for my liking). But I loved my time with the game and most people have loved it too (judging from the reviews on steam and basically everywhere). The art is great, the sound is great, gameplay is very precise, there is not unfair randomness in enemy behaviour. It’s a very strict pattern memorization and being able to pull off accurate button presses in a correct pattern. The randomness of your weapons forces you to learn new patterns (after a while most weapons become quite usefull). Most people loved it and it wasn’t “lukewarm”. Are you arguing that only the last boss is bad and the rest before is great? Sure, the last boss might not be the best one in metroidvanias ever, but it’s competent enough. Sure, it would be better if the ending was stronger. But if 95% of the game is stellar and the last 5% is competent, doesn’t it still remain great? Would you prefer 95% competent and the last 5% stellar?

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  6. I never understood the people in Vanilla WoW who complained about wiping on Ragnaros…time, after time, after time…etc. The whiny complaints of “he’s too hard!” came from people of all skill levels…that is until they figured out how to manage Rag’s sons when they spawned….then it became a snooze fest….and no more whining! One simple strategy change and suddenly no one in the raid group sucked anymore…you know…because the group was now able to down Rag. Jeesh.

    Also, whether it took Azuriel 5 hours, or 25 hours to “finish” the game, a simple google search yields countless tips and strategy guides that are online at no cost. But…oh…wait….nevermind. 🙂

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  7. @Smokeman: you got me here. I did enjoy Subnautica as an exploration game. As soon as I finished exploring, I started hating it. Because the other content was crap. But exploration indeed kept me hooked for 200+ hours. You’re right. I “liked” Subnautica. Hell, I think about installing it again and again, only to remind me that I can’t explore one more time.

    @Azuriel: because Steam Charts matters. Player count is a good advertising tool. Are you playing Boss Cells? If not, they are right to assume that people want to “finish”, so they elongated that.

    @Provi Miner: irrelevant. It doesn’t matter why you play. All that matters that you do.

    @Maxim: if a game have players, the company gets investors. Hell, many companies had billions of dollars without a single $ income or even plan to get income, just because they had lots of free users (Twitter for example)

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  8. Once he paid the price and got some enjoyment out of the game, playing for another 10 hours and NOT enjoying it just lessens the chance he will buy the next game from that developer. There is not benefit for the game owner unless they get paid for extra lives.

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  9. Steam users also check the ratings, so if someone plays the game for 10h and likes it and then writes a positive review compared to someone that played it for 25h but then goes and writes a negative one… which scenario would be better for you as a game developer? I would not assume

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  10. to each their own. there are players that beat “getting over it” and players who try and rage quit and players who can’t be bothered with.

    If you don’t like it, don’t play it. no matter how your brain is wired for long term gratification or instant gratification. Sure instant gratifications seems to be the majority in games these days. But there are always some gems here and there.

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  11. @Gevlon
    “Motion Twin is an anarcho-syndical (seriously) workers cooperative that’s been making games in France since 2001. No boss, equal pay, equal say. It’s an experiment and an experience!” <- unironic quote from the web site of Dead Cells' creator.

    Soemhow i doubt these guys are ever getting any investors. Especially of the "pay for your platform, not for your product" kind.

    Same for most game studios.

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  12. @Roman
    Are you arguing that only the last boss is bad and the rest before is great?

    Yes, that is precisely what I am arguing (and did in my actual linked post). The majority of the game is great fun. Random item drops are RNG, but they’re fun RNG that change the nature of each run. The controls are tight, dodging feels good, etc etc etc.

    But if there comes a point at which a game stops being fun and you aren’t done yet, it’s a problem. Or if the game changes radically in the final moments. Gevlon loved Subnautica up until he got to the Lava zone, for example. I have no problem dying to the last boss a bunch of times while learning the moveset. But at a certain point, it starts feeling dumb. Artificial. Then you realize the devs put in mob scaling such that each Upgrade Scroll increases mob health/damage. Then you realize that damage reduction items > everything because the boss is overtuned (likely due to the scaling). Then you beat the last boss, and instead of “accomplishment” you feel nothing, because you stopped having fun hours ago.

    As for the Metacritic score, sure, you got me there. Dark Souls has an 89 too. But if I’m looking at reviews and see a “great game with a disappointing endgame,” I don’t care about what else might be good about it. I’d rather be playing games that end on a high note, because that’s often the only thing you remember about them three, six, twelve months later. “It was all so fun… until the end.” Meanwhile, mediocre games with great endings are remembered like “It was so-so, but I’m glad I stuck through to the end… that ending, wow!”

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  13. Funnily MOBAs like Lol/Dota seem to suffer from a familiar problem. A lot of people play it and keep playing it, but every time Riot publishes a video on its YT channel (‘Play LoL’) the comments are very negative, people seem to hate playing those games (mostly due to toxic or just general team mates).
    Guess one can still argue both ways, LoL is so successful that it seems to be enough to keep people playing the game and ‘fun’ is optional, but it will be very difficult to get new players (and a lot of streamers did quit by now). Is LoL a well designed game? What is a well designed game?

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