606 Frustration By Design

My brother and I have playing a lot of Borderlands 2 lately, in pursuit of the platinum trophy. Neither of us cares that much about the actual trophy, but we do love the game a lot and so figured we would make it an arbitrary goal to play it enough to get the trophy.

There was a specific and very difficult boss we had to defeat for one of the trophies. We were appropriately leveled to encounter it, but it is in many ways designed for 3-4 players, and not for 2. Lance immediately became frustrated by some aspects of the boss, as we began fighting it and dying over and over. Although this partially a personality aspect of his, I think it’s an interesting piece of game design in general.

There wasn’t anything particularly inherently frustrating about what was happening. It was only a few minutes of time we were wasting each time we were defeated. But, it was the feeling that we were losing and didn’t really know what to do about it. The game wasn’t really teaching us what we were doing wrong, or what we could change to progress.

But, is it the game’s responsibility to do that? Or do we as game players need to take initiative to explore a game with this in mind. What can I do differently next time to make sure that I progress forward?

It’s a bit like a puzzle in some ways, trying multiple different solutions and arrangements before finally discovering the correct one. It’s just that, in first-person games like this, the proxy of “dying” adds some amount of increased stress and frustration. Dying over and over again doesn’t come with any intrinsic feeling of progression, so it’s up to the player to find that for themselves (Dark Souls, I’m looking at you…).

[ Today I Was Playing: Two Dots ]

August 28, 2016