Sunday, November 25, 2007

Aaaaaaaaannnnnnnndddddd Scene!

Welp, that's it for me and Ratchet.

Best game I've played all far.

But did I finish it? Hell no. Not even close.

A quick check at gamefaqs tells me I have 9-10 more worlds to go to/return to before I reach the end.

But sorry, Ratchet, old pal. Your game is back in the blu-ray case and I doubt it will ever see the insides of my PS3 again...unless it's for research.

Again- I loved this game. LOVED IT! I could not stop playing it for a while there. Need to dive into Mario Galaxy next but I've played MGalaxy for about 2 hours and my initial impressions are really good, but I like Ratchet way more so far. So I'm not dogging this game at all.

But man, they did the two things that kill most games for me (assuming I even like the game enough to play for more than 30 minutes...and hell I liked/loved this one enough to play for like 3 nights!):

a- they overstayed their welcome. 9 more levels?!? Come on! I played for like 5-6 hours so far (stopped playing on the dino lava planet...which looks AMAZING, by the way!)...but yeah, so after 5-6 hours I feel like I've pretty much gotten the point of the game, done most of the mechanics, gotten the gist of the thing's spirit....and now I want to be done within the next 30 min to 2 hours. Maybe it's just me but I want to be able to finish a damn story based game in 1-4 sittings tops...where a sitting= 1-3 hours max, not 6-8 hours at a time. Once I realized how much more there was to play, it only took the slightest thing to get me to walk away. Turns out the slightest thing was a huge thing...and that is:

b- STOP MAKING IT OBVIOUS THAT GAMES ARE GETTING HARDER AS YOU PROGRESS!!! Ok, there are probably several schools of thought on this, but here's mine...and I think it should be the standard line of thought for all story based games (hey, it's my blog, so I can be a game design bully if I want to :) here it is:

FROM START TO FINISH, with NO deviation from this, games need to be hard enough to be engaging but easy enough so they don't get frustrating. This to me equals PLAYER ENGAGEMENT. And the goal should be for the player to feel ENGAGED 100% of the time. NOT CHALLENGED! NEVER CHALLENGED! Who the fuck wants to feel challenged?!? I mean, who is that fun for?!?! Unless it's a hard core skill game and it's clear that is the goal for the title (like Ghosts N' Goblins or something) a game should engage you from start to finish...and that is it!

And Ratchet did this beautifully until I got to the space ship boss battle (with it's crazy 'aim with one stick and move the ship with the other' set up). But I could live with that hiccup. But then right after they toss me into a robotron level of 'we're going to milk 30 minutes out of play time while we keep you in this one area and throw more and more bad guys at you' this point I was getting kind of tied of the thing but really wanted to finish it....but THEN right after, I'm on the dino planet where the giant dino enemies- who are not even bosses- take alot of hit points to kill and do you alot of damage....and that for me, was the killer, the nail in the coffin. I had 4 sections in a row where instead of 'semi-coasting thru the adventure/semi focusing on the adventure in order to move forward', the game took me out of the fast lane, out of the zen-like trance that a great game creates and suddenly I was WORKING.

Well fuck it, I already got a job. I don't want to work to play your game. So I'm not going to. I'm done.

And yeah, I know some folks think the game was ultra easy. Difficulty is subjective and good work is being done in some games today to adjust difficulty for players on the fly. But for me, the game got too hard. NOTso hard that I could not finish it if I really tried. Sure I COULD finish it with 3-5 deaths of Ratchet for each challenging area...but again, I'm not here to take a fucking test...I'm here to play. And after dino planet, I was no longer playing. I was dying-learning-dying-learning a bit more-dying-learning a bit more....ugh, fucking shit!

Much as I loved this game...and again, it's a GOTY contender for me...I just can't keep struggling with the thing.

I mean...if I may....ahem:


Again, I get that games should get harder as they go. But they should do it in order to keep the player in the engaged sweet spot and to compensate and adjust for the player's increasing the player, the increase in difficulty should go the player, the difficulty should be the SAME feeling as it is in the final level as it was in the first level. But somewhere along the line, designers forgot the REASON games were supposed to get harder. Hell, maybe it was never defined like I am defining it...maybe alot of designers are just doing the 'games get harder as they go' thing from the old arcade days (where they had to in order to kick you slacker ass off the machine) and never really thought about the theory behind it....and just applied it to today's games when they really should not be doing so.

And before someone comments that by 6-8 hours in, I should have learned the skills needed so that the dino planet would not have resulted in a shelf moment and that this is what the makers of Ratchet were hoping for, let me say this...and this comes from 14 years of experience watching people respond- good and bad- to the games I've worked on: gamers are not developers. They WILL NOT use ANY mechanic they do not need to use. They will take the path of least resistance to get from A TO B. So just because the developer OFFERS a way to dodge bullets skillfully, and just because a game allows the player to slow down time and reverse it when things get tough (for example), the player- unless he has HAD to use those skills alot earlier in the game- will probably not call upon them 6-8 hours in when the developer presents the player with a situation that will be hard- and take him out of the engagement zone- unless he DOES use those mechanics.

And I know, I know...I've done it to players as well. Hades in GOW was a pain in the ass...not by design, just by not getting around to focus testing that level. Twisted Metal:Black was so hard we probably cut our audience for that game by at least 50%. And that game is a perfect example of us- as developers- assuming players would use mechanics we had given them without even forcing the player to make those mechanics second nature (75% of Twisted :Black players didn't even KNOW there were d-pad combo moves that let you fire ice, rear fire, drop mines, and activate a shield)...but we tuned the game assuming everyone would know those mechanics were there and- as importantly- have them ingrained as much into their play styles as us, the game makers. So yeah, I've fucked it up before as well....hell of alot worse than the new Ratchet in fact.

And maybe it's because- as a designer- I've been guilty of these sins myself that I know it when I see it and I HATE IT when I see it. Cause a) it pisses me off as a player and b) it reminds me of my past failures as a designer.

Man...if Ratchet would have just ended 2 planets past the lava/dino planet...and it would have stayed at the same level of engagement from start to finish, it would have been one of my top 5 games of all is, now it sits between my unopened copy of STRANGLEHOLD for PS3 and my Atari 2600 copy of Custard's Revenge, gathering dust.

And yeah I know this post is angry. I know I'm coming down crazy hard on a stellar game like Ratchet versus some lame ass B grade game....Sorry about that...but I am so disappointed because I loved the newest Ratchet SO MUCH! It looks so amazing and controls like butter and just feels SOOOOOO right. And I was having SOOOOO much damn fun. And dammit, they took that away from me. So I guess I am pissed now...sorry...sure I will feel better in daylight :) to bed!

Hope ya'll had a great holiday!

Angry/Sad/Annoyed David


Adam said...

I think you did a splendid job with the Hades battle in GOW. I thought the difficulty made it so great once I beat that part.

I have to disagree with you on the challenging/long game thing. When a game is challenging I feel like I'm getting my money's worth and that someone really thought about making it not only entertaining but also clever. Again, it feels so great when you figure it out.

Anonymous said...

I would rather a nice not easy but not so challegning game I can beat in an afternoon because between school and work I dont have 30 hours to dedicate to gaming... and are we going to get an announcment on a new project?

Sadeq said...

funny read

thanks for sharing

well, i did finish the new Ratchet game, and yes, the dino planet was a jump in difficulty for me but it wasn't a deal killer

i get what you are saying, i don't think i ever stopped playing a game before ONLY because of the difficulty (unless it's plain stupid and FRUSTRATING (Ninja Gaiden comes to mind)

so Dave, did you try Uncharted yet?

Anonymous said...

When a game starts to become work, the fun is completely lost. A lot of games do this and I really hate it.

That said, ToD was great! I found myself hoping it WOULDN'T end. Had no problem with the game but I see where you're coming from.

Anonymous said...

ha how funny i stoped playing on the same level

Jesper Bylund said...

Well said! I completely agree with your thoughts on difficulty, I will still buy ratchet though. Loved the demo too much not to.

There is a shelf moment in GOW, and it's in hades, but I don't think it's what you meant so I thought I would point it out. Climbing up rotating walls with blades, several at a time, with a one-try-or-start-over approach in a game that doesn't have a wall climbing focus was disconcerting and took me 4 hours to beat. Mind you, I actually did beat the game and I very rarely finish games.

Thanks for the blog by the way, very interesting thoughts!

Anonymous said...

u should go back and play that game sometime. once u go back to that dino planet later on u can kill those trex guys in about 2 sec.. the maxed out flame thrower really fucks them up. but i do agree it was kinda long. still liked it alot though

Jyri Jokinen said...

Thanks for making me feel like I'm not a complete loser!

I totally agree with you on the point of wanting to be entertained, not tested. I'm so totally pissed off with Gears of War right now. It's a good looking game and it does have its moments, but when I last played it, I got stuck on some courtyard where I have to kill a bunch of uglies and after that they throw in a bunch of bigger uglies. I almost felt like accomplishing something when I survived the initial onslaught, but THERE WAS NO FUCKING CHECKPOINT before the bazooka baddies showed up.

Previous piss-off point was in the refinery (or whatever), where I had to run a mile and listen to the same damn chatter before getting to try to kill the monsters. What the hell is it with game designers putting the checkpoints just before a long winded cut-scene? Sure it makes the game last longer, but I'm not rating games based on their lenght but simply by the fun factor.

Too bad you didn't feel like finishing ToD, though. There are a lot of fun moments in the later levels of the game.

Oh, and on the topic of lenght of games: I think that Heavenly Sword is one of the best games of the year, and probably the hugest Gaming Experience ever. It only lasted for some six hours, but I've never felt the same after playing a game. I can't compare the sensation to any other game, since there are not games like Heavenly Sword. I guess it paid off to cut the length and focus on making the remaining part amazingly good.

Joel said...

i had this same thing happen to me in a flash game called N.

free to download, and SO SOOO amazing.

the platforming rivals any game i've ever played, despite (or maybe partly because of) its 2d nature, and simple (but stylish) graphics.

the problem i found was that these game makers DEFINITELY subscribed to the belief that in order for a game to be good, it needs to be near-impossible to beat.

the reason i stopped play was that i got to this one REALLLLY hard level, and i finally beat it after hours of practice, but you have to beat 3 levels in a row to pass a "chapter" in this game.. so it kept sending me back to this near impossible level, and whenever i would just barely manage to beat it, i would then die in the first few seconds of the second level.

beating three in a row was a challenge so great, that i ended up not playing over 75 percent of the game! although i imagine the levels must have only gotten harder past there!

point being... i don't mind a game that challenges me once in a while.. but there is some point where it just becomes overwhelming, and thats what needs to be avoided.

i do like the idea you mentioned about how a game gets harder as you progress to keep you in the sweet spot. i think there is definitely truth to that. especially in god of war games, i really think that was managed well for the most part. even though i did get frustrated on several levels, i knew that once i got past there, i'd have a whole chunk of game in between there and the next time i got frustrated, and it would be worth it, and i would be so happy i got past that challenge.

anyways, i think you should play uncharted, its shorter, and i think naughty dog is definitely known for getting you in the "sweet spot"


yannickhill said...

I utterly agree with this. When trial and error comes into play, the experience ceases to be fun, and, in some cases, art.

Anonymous said...

Preach on jaffe. I 200% agree with you I hate to work to just play a game. I got so fucking pissed off when I tried playing through ninga gaiden sigma. That game is so god dam hard for no good reason what so ever. I played it for 4 nights when i come home from work only to made it to level 6. I got so fucking pissed I thrown my control across the room the last I night it played the game. After that I did not play a video game for 2 weeks. Now I am playing final fantasy 9 and having the time of my life.

Anonymous said...

Well Mario Galaxy is pretty damn hard...

About game length:

I believe in the mid-point...

I hate both, long games, and short games.

In Galaxy, I lost myself in it. I beat 5 galaxies, thinking that I was approaching the end. Thinking that this would be a typical 8-World Mario-- I was wrong.

I spotted 14 galaxies so far. Still excited to play through the rest of it, though.

I think long games should have their point made (finish the main story) after a 6-8 hours of gameplay, but if you want to delve deeper (elaborate, epilouge, bonus levels, etc.) they should have that option for the hardcore gamer. Of course, that further elaboration SHOULD NOT go unrewarded. Playing all those extra hours to "just beat everything" and not receive a prize, just a "Congrats, you got everything!" Is highly agitating. (Pokemon: "You catch 'em all" and guess what? You get a plaque!)

- Davis

Anonymous said...

Try playing Contra 4.

David Jaffe said...

Well I was GOING to get Contra for the DS and then I read reviews saying how hard it was and was like: nope, not for me. Which sucks cause I really loved the first NES contra as a kid and wanted more of the same...don't recall that Contra being a 'tear your hear out' experience...same with Ghosts N Goblins on PSP...I was dying to play it and the art looked amazing and I was so jazzed and then the reviews came out saying it was crazy hard and I didn't even bother picking it up. I was like: hell no. So yeah, sadly, no Contra 4 for me.

grasshopper said...

Ugh speaking of Contra I got Shattered Soldier for the PS2 a while back. That game kicked my ass sooooo bad I only got to level two...FUCKING TWO!! Haven't picked it up again. Kinda sad because I really liked the 1st one too.

gary Z said...

the gamers usually hav a wrong impression tat more harder the game is more greater it is.. tat is totally ridiculous as u pointed out.....v seldom find games wit the even spread out right from the first level to the last ...if the gamers feel at it is fuckin easy then thr s sumting known as the hard mode they can always select..not tat its a walk in the park earlier n reaching the last level v gotta break our head for hours tats total shit... nice to know tat u appreciate the game on its smoothness so v can expect better games from u ..

Anonymous said...

GoW was perfect to play on Spartan from the beginning than Warrior. It was far too easy that way. Anyway, I disagree with you. Games should be long and challanging but not frustrating!

Anonymous said...

Interesting points Jaffe. I think I know what you mean. At some point in most games, it becomes a grind. You are playing to finish or just going through the motions. I think this is due to the expected length of games and the amount of difficulty in making unique and engaging elements throughout.

About the only game I feel got the right balance is Shadow of the Colossus. The simple nature of the game and the variety of the colossi really made it that way. If you have never played it, you should definitely give it a shot.

I would recommend finishing Ratchet. The planets are relatively easy as long as you make use of your weapons. You get plenty of ammo and health as time goes on. I think you are at the border right now where you don't quite have a large amount of health and ammo, but you are starting to face the harder enemies. I think if you play it all the way through, you will be glad you did.

Reading about Twisted Metal, I have to say something about it. I'm a long time fan, in fact it was the first Playstation game I ever played. Anyways, for the Head On port, you should definitely consider making the extra powers easier to do/figure out. I think most people today never read game manuals, so at the very least there needs to be an in game menu that tells you the moves. I also think they should be made simpler, as in 2 button presses. Like ( >, ^) for freeze, (<, down) for mines, (<, >) for shield, ect. I found myself never using them in Black because in the heat of battle, it’s very difficult to think about and act on using the specials. Simpler button combinations, an in game menu, and perhaps a tutorial would go a long ways to make them more inclusive in average gameplay.

All of that said, I think the reason why you see this with modern games is the review system. 1-3 hour games would be reviewed so poorly it would be a disaster for a company to make them. I think if a gamer such as yourself has an issue with the length of games, just make up for it with long breaks. Don’t EVER play 1 game for an extended period of time. Play games in short bursts then stop playing as soon as you are really having fun and want to continue forward. It will leave a good taste in you mouth every time you play and will make you really want to go back for more. Unlike movies and books, this technique is perfectly suited for games and you can be pretty much assured that you will never tire of the game.

David Jaffe said...

timetable- thanks for the post.

Two things:

Agree on Twisted and for the TM BLACK 2 levels that will ship with lost, we have changed the advanced attacks for just that reason. Now you can do Freeze/Shied/mine/rear fire just by pressing the Triangle button and then hitting one of 4 directions on the if you hit tri + down, any weapon you have in the cue shoots out the's MUCH more intuitive and makes much more sense in such a fast paced game....

As for your suggestion of 'how to play a game', while I think it may work, I don't think it's the consumer's job to have to have a plan in order to enjoy the entertainment they have just paid 60 bucks for. If the game does not take your hand and show you a great time, then it's a failure. It's my job as the designer to make sure this's NOT my job as the gamer to make sure I have a great time (unless I'm just being an ass and standing in the corner of Super Mario G and jumping up and down over and over and going: this is no fun!) :)

Anonymous said...


well, i guess it depends on what the experience you want is. i mean, you keep using the word "entertainment" instead of "game" and obviously, there is a big difference. if you don't want to be challenged and have to overcome increased difficulty as the game goes on, then you aren't looking for that experience, which is kind of built in to the defineition of "game".

it seems like the experience you are looking for is to be entertained with a minimal amount of of difficulty so that there is zero frustration on your part as the "user".

chess is a good example of a game that becomes more difficult as it goes on. you have to think and strategize and use the tools given to you (basically the game rules) to overcome the increased level of challenge as the places to move on the board without negative effect become harder and harder to find. that's a game.

"playing" an experience and using buttons and mechanics and a character without increasing challenge is more like an interactive book or a movie and i think alot of games today are on the fence about this. games like contra and ninja gaiden are difficult on purpose (some say too difficult) and it hurts them, but there's a place for all of these games on the shelf.

it's just figuring out what you want to play before you pick it up (or make before you make it).

personally, when i play a game, i want a challenge. "press X to win" is not a game, it's an action. i think our industry is relying more and more on the interactive entertainment" angle and less on "video GAME" these days. maybe that's what the masses want, but we have to remember that this all started with a quarter and an (almost) impossible challenge.

we shouldn't loose sight of that.

David Jaffe said...

Hey Orthy...more worky, less commenty :)

Actually it really comes down to ENGAGEMENT and to me that is a game that is hard enough to not be boring (thus 'press X to win' does not count) but easy enough not to get frustrating. If you read my post, it's about the SWEET SPOT for me, at least.

I mean want to die a few times, try to figure stuff out, then have an 'ah ha!' moment...every now and then. And when I am not doing that, I want to be skating on the edge between too hard and too me, that is a feeling I love. And a feelng I can ONLY get in games. But for many games, the idea of fun equals giving the player the experience of: I GOTTA BEAT THIS FUCKER CAUSE IT'S KICKING MY ASS AND I WANT TO KICK ITS ASS!

And I get some players dig that...I just don't.

Anonymous said...


That new system for Twisted Metal sounds excellent! I was really hoping that was going to be upgraded/somewhat redesigned and to hear it come true is great news.

I agree that a games should hold your hand, but I also think it is up to the individual to pace themselves to what they are comfortable with. If you are only comfortable with or only get enjoyment from doing games in short bursts, then I believe you should only play games in short bursts and just use multiple games at a time. For instance, I am playing Folklore, Shadow of the Colossus, Ratchet, Warhawk, Resistance, Heavenly Sword, Guitar Hero, and various PSN games (CaC, SSHD). I never play any of these games for truly extended periods of time and rotate each one of them on and off. I play each game at a rather slow pace and never play them to the point of where they start feeling like a grind or start getting repetitive. For example, I’ve been playing SotC for over a year. But at the same time, there have been 2-3 month periods or even more where I don’t even touch it. This has enabled me to enjoy it every time I play without it ever feeling like it is getting boring. Overall, I think you would find a lot more enjoyment out of games if you would play them in a fashion that allows you to enjoy them every time. Just my two cents. :)

Anonymous said...

Here is something that should be eliminated before long/challenging games...


Jesus we get your point in the first paragraph people.. Try and at least ACT like you have an editor reading over your shoulder.

as for your points... your to old to be playing ratchet and clank...

Anonymous said...

I could not disagree with you more. Ratchet, to me, was far easier than GOW in every aspect. The level in GOW in Hell where you were walking on those rotating pipes with spikes and what not was a source of many deaths and some frustration - hence, I see where you are coming from. But there was no level in Ratchet that I could not beat with two or three lives. And that only goes for certain bosses. The dinosaur creatures you speak of as difficult were just fodder to me; I guess it depends on which weapons you have been upgrading up to that point. I just set turrets and unloaded with rockets and so forth, and they were dead in seconds.

My biggest complaint was that the game was too short and too easy. I didn't use any fancy techniques, I just held the left trigger and shot at stuff with various weapons.

I WILL say that the game should have had difficulty settings. That would have helped both of us get our desired experience out of the game.

David Jaffe said...


Try and at least ACT like you have an editor reading over your shoulder.

as for your points... your to old to be playing ratchet and clank...

...I mean, do I even NEED to respond to that...? Maybe I should just send him a copy of Strunk and White for the holidays.

As for editing and typos,etc...dude, I got a fucking real job I do...these blog posts are brain dumps and nothing more. I never go back, never re-read,etc. They are just snapshots of what is on my mind. What is your excuse for writing like a 3rd grader?


derrickgott007 said...

Ok, I guess I'll be the one to throw in the "Where is God of War 3?" post....It wouldn't be a Jaffe blog without at least one God of War 3 crybaby. lol

David, Love the long posts man...Seriously, I don't know why these idiots are crying about them.

Anonymous said...

Brain dump? OK dump away, but people are going to call you out on it.

If you don’t like to hear people not agreeing with you then dump on your laptop and save it in your documents folder.

Your a big time designer, that has a good point about game difficulty. But your essentially wrong.

Your too old to be playing games that take 19+ hours to complete, fine. But is my little brother?

When I was a kid I hated beating a game 2 days after I got it on Christmas.

Your designing games in your head for adults, and forgetting about the reason you even enjoy games.

You are a game designer, please, design a game that you enjoy. But just because your to old to thoroughly enjoy a plat former, don’t hate on it.

You sound like my parents.

You just can’t make a game that everyone in the world is going to enjoy.

It’s not possible.

David Jaffe said...

Ok...first off: it's you're not your.

Please don't come here and bitch about my needing an editor when you clearly have work to do on your own poor communication skills.

And the reason I point out it's a brain dump is that I WANT IT TO FEEL LIKE A REAL CONVERSATION...this is not IGN or LEVEL UP from N''s me shooting the shit...typos, ramblings, and all.

As for your point: I hear what you are saying and YES some games are designed with different audiences in mind than me. And as I said: I LOVED Ratchet. And maybe the length thing you have a point on: if it IS a game designed for kids with tons of time, then yes, it makes sense.

Does not negate the difficulty issue however. To me, I think most players- young and old alike- are not looking for challenges so much as they are entertainment. I think the number of folks for whom challenge=entertainment is very small, and certainly too small to merit the 15 million + price tag that Ratchet must have cost.

Anonymous said...

Well, 15-150 million, that shouldn’t gauge how difficult a game should be at all (unless the difficulty is simply a error and should have been fixed, like the construction of a Pinto).

In which case we should be discussing how broken RaC is, and not how difficult…

I still don’t think its possible to be able to judge whether a game is to difficult or not.

This fight is something that all designers combat all the time, I'm sure you have.

Honestly, I don’t think that 15 million is probably enough to be able to aptly judge whether something is working or not working, difficult or too difficult in this industry... with all the running around in circles, sometimes its just to damn hard for anyone to catch.

David Jaffe said...

What I am saying is, when you spend over 5 million bucks on a game, it makes sense to tune it for the mainstream, meaning that the 'challenge=entertainment' players are not- or in my mind- SHOULD NOT be the main audience the developer is focused on or the game will never make its money back.

Anonymous said...


I think challenge is put there for those who want it and can be ignored by those who don't. Look at GTA or Gran Turismo. Both games have sold astronomical numbers,
and both are difficult to beat. People play games based on what they want out of them. Once they get that, they put it down and move on. Hardcore and casual alike.

In the end, did you enjoy what you played of Ratchet? Then all is well. Games are the three ring circus of entertainment, and they can be enjoyed in a huge variety of ways. :)

grasshopper said...

Yea but no matter how you make a game if you go for the lesser difficulty crowd or the high difficulty crowd your probably going to get a large crowd of pissed off people. I think every game just needs a Casual/Hardcore difficulty setting right from the start.

Anonymous said...

One more quick thing-

I think you underestimate how many people are "hardcore." Many people that I knew that played games (what I would consider relatively casual players) would play games on a relatively hardcore level. I am somewhat casual in that sense since I rarely really complete games.

If you want some evidence, go on XBL and compare games with some regular Halo (or other game)players. I think you may be surprised how many people would be considered hardcore players at least on one game(in other words have a lot of gamerscore points or time spent on at least one game).

Anonymous said...

Obviously here on your blog and on videogame sites, people are likely going to be hardcore gamers that want long games. In your profession, people are likely to lament the fact that the long hours prevent them from playing the games they love. Both biased opinions.

Anybody happen to know whether or not there have been any surveys or studies about what consumers in general expect in game length, or rather would prefer?

Personally, I have honestly, in my entire life, NEVER heard anybody complain that a game was too LONG. I've heard hundreds of people complain games are too short, but none too long. I would be willing to bet that the majority of the game buying public prefers long games, but it would be interesting to have some evidence one way or the other.

What I don't understand is why Ratchet is the game to trigger this. The game has to be one of the most "casual" games out there. It's the easiest game I've played in recent memory, definitely more so than God of War. It seems to epitomise your "entertainment" argument. If it doesn't, what games can you point to that support your idea of an entertainment over challenge style of gaming?

Brandon said...

Hmmm . . . interesting point. My brother felt the same way when he played Jak II. Yet, for me it was a game worth finishing.

I've also noticed something else as well. My younger brother, who is 14, and closer to the target audience that Insomniac was probably after with Ratchet, thinks 6 hour games are too short, and he felt like Ratchet was too easy. Regarding Twisted Metal: Black, I thought the "Hard" difficulty setting was spot on at first, and months later wished for an "ultra-hard."

So what should a game designer do in that scenario? It seems like people vary so much I don't have any clue how to solve it except aim for your target audience (in which case if it's for a teenage kid the game should be long, and perhaps challenging). Guess solving it is why they pay you guys and not me . . . good luck to you.

I'm only on the second planet on Ratchet. Now I'm worried about the future.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, its weird to think about how differently we view certain design decisions as someone who makes games and someone who just plays them.

In a lot of cases I kind of expect to die and learn from it, never really faulting the game. I stopped long before that in Ratchet though, for other reasons so who knows how I'll feel when I get there.

I found the insight into game design and the fun factor especially cool though, keep it up.

Anonymous said...


I believe that there can be a very thin line between challenging and engaging. I get where you are coming from, but I guess some people actually feel more engaged when they are challenged. Then again it could be subjective how you define that.

To me, if a game doesnt take cheapshots at me and gives me the ability to "kick its ass" back based on how well I can pull the skills off, then I'd say its engaging enough.

The moment a game kills it for me is when it takes cheapshots and I cant do shit about it. If there are ways to beat the game, without having to pull my hair or get bored of doing the same crap over and over again just to get to the next cutscene, then I'm engaged. Anyways, just my 2 cents worth of opinion :)

elquemador said...

Damn I neve saw Dave so angry, any way, Dave when are we going to have a game from your new studio? its about time to announce it.

Joel said...

hmm, so if triangle plus directional button is for the energy moves (ice,mine,reverse ice,etc) that makes me wonder what other changes there will be to the controls.

i loved how many codes twisted metal 2 had. i remember once me and my brother turned on the homing fireballs in the tokyo level, and just shot thousands of them.. the memory of it is permanetly etched in my memory as gaming bliss, and it wouldn't have been possible if you didn't add the code in!

not to mention there were so many cool places you could get to by exploring secret spots.. especially when i had low health i'd go hibernate in "sniper" type spots where i could wait for the enemy to come in, and then i'd shoot him, and then drive away as fast as possible, in hopes of maybe surviving. lol.

ahh, did i mention that i bought a playstation 1 JUST for twisted metal 2, and played it for 6 months before buying another game!

Joel said...

oh, i also wanted to say, the sound-effect for spectre's special weapon in twisted metal 2.. one of the best sound effects of all time!

never forget that sound!

Anonymous said...

The only game i can think of thats like that for me is Odin Sphere. I heard what an awesome game it was minus bad slowdown on like 2 or 3 of the boss fights. Ends up its so repetitive, each story is like 5-9 hours and with 5 stories your looking at 40 hours of a 2-d rpg...i got to the 15 or so hour mark and couldnt believe theres another 25 to go...then theres this one level you have to beat these slime things, they have like 10 000 hp and each hit does 1...unless you bought some fire breath with the $$ they never throw your way ....i was like pleh this game is so done

Anonymous said...

Dave - I hope you'll give this one another shot. As you say, difficulty is subjective and I personally found the game to be challenging throughout without being frustrating. You've had a problem with it though, and there's nothing wrong with that opinion, but like you I agree this is GOTY material and it'd be a shame if you weren't able to see this one through to the end. I'm hoping once you get past the pesky dinos (tip: use the nano-swarmers throughout the game to do the hard work for you) you'll be past the frustrating sections.

Duda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I thought Ratchet was fine. It did get a little repetitive at some points, but I thought the great gameplay and different activities managed to keep me interested until the end.

Hard games are not really a deterrent to a great gaming experience. God of War is best played on Hard mode on both 1 and 2. If you play it on normal, it's just too damn easy. The same thing happens with a series like Devil May Cry and it's third installment. A lot of people complained that it was "TOO HARD" but what made the game awesome, was figuring out how to use the different abilities to kick some ass (Just like different combos in God of War)

Duda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

David, I dont think the problem is you're "too old" but that you're a game designer, and once you get a grasp of a game's primary mechanics its sort of over for you. Nothing wrong with that. I would like to hear your afterthoughts about Phantom Hourglass if you complete it, since its a "big" adventure game yet streamlined and somewhat simplified.

Also have you read Surfer Girl's blog? What do you think of it?

Anonymous said...

@ortholomeux: I'm with ya... a game with out challenge, aint a game, it's an activity... i still love trying to beat games on 1 credit! I love a challenge, i'm surprised modern day gamers know how to ride a bike/snowboard/skateboard nowadays - now thats challenging!

Contra, Ninja Gaiden, HA! You want a challenging game play "Shoot The Bullet" my game of last year (GOLY!)... check the info:

check a vid:

DF334 said...

Damn D,

I can tell you were upset! The way I feel is if I paid $60 for a game it needs to be long. We have had so many games that have dropped you off way too fast and you paid $60 that could of went into gas or something else. I think they are trying to give you the same satisfaction for your money that RPG's give you. I am always happy to buy an RPG cause I know that I will get at least about 100 hours, if you count all of the extra stuff that you must find. You could never get that long of playing time in any other game genre , period. So,I commend them on the whole factor of giving me my money's worth.

It alright Dave. Just wait till your next game right??

Anonymous said...

Wow I hit a mother load on this one.

Well I agree and disagree with some of your points...I'm a gemini, I can do that.

I do enjoy a kick ass challenging game. It's also why I like to game with other people online. For me a challenge like that is like any other intense experiance. It's a major de-stressor. It's substituting negative stress with positive enrgy.

That being said when a game starts to cause stress it no longer provides the desired experiance.

Some of this depends on the game and some on the player. There are time's when we need that intence experiance and other times we just want to play and have fun.

I'm going to see if I can apply this to some other activities. It's like when I go snowboarding or mountain bike riding. I'm looking to challange myself as opposed to riding around the block or kayaking which is a far less intense but enjoyable experiance.

Along those lines I need to take these more intense experiances in doses when I'm driven to do so but when I get tired or too intense it gets frustraiting and it's time to stop.

It sounds like you want to engage the player on many levels which is cool and all but sometimes the timeing just won't match what the player needs at that moment.

When I'm playing and hit that wall it becomes the definition if insanity...repeating the same actions but expecting different results. Put it down and walk away.

I'll then go back and the next time nail it without extra haties in GOW.

Sometimes it is the machanics in the game that train the muscle memory and it a point where the player is then asked to do something different but the brain is already wired to repeat the previous actions. Put it down and walk away.

Now as far as the length of a game...if it's a good game I don't want it to end too soon as long as I'm having fun when the play mode is where I want to be. Like GTA, I was 100 hours into the game and still only 90% complete because I was having fun just doing stuff.
Ive put over 500 hours into some of my favorite online shooters.

As a consumer that is value for the buck, spending $60 for a game...even if it's a great game better last more than 5 hours or i'm going to feel jipped. To put it into perspective I paid $70 for my Band of Brothers DVD box set, that's 8 hours and I've watched it at least 4 times.

Now I'm not a game designer I'm just a player since pong and asteroids was new...Ive been gameing online since there was an online. I don't pretend to know about game design but I sure can tell you why I play them and what I like about them. I can also tell when it's time to take a break and come back to it later.

So Dave do yourself a favor. Give rathet a well deserved rest but come back to it this cristmas holiday with a fresh attitude. you will fell better for it.

Or I could just be totaly wrong and you'll just get all pissed off again and write another mother long blog...either way it's fun for me :)


Anonymous said...

Oh ya side note.

I'm 44 and Ive been playing since the stuff was invented and have never stopped...why stop if you still having fun. I did spend less time gameing when my kids were very young and I was in collage twice. But now that I'm older I have more free time and my kids are spending time with there own lives. Although we did just form a Rock Band on the game Rock Band...I'm the drummer :)/8

Am I also too old to snowboard, or mountain bike or hike up a mountain? Hell when I am I'll probably still be playing games.

Fallen One [Jeff] said...

I will admit that the dino level was a step up in the difficulty ladder, however its what made the game interesting. [well, aside from those tank guys, they're just annoying]

Anyway, if Dino mashing was to much of a chore i guess its a good thing you never made it to the cragmite homeworld, those giant warpers are just a pain... takes 6 negotiator rounds in judicator mode! I found myself needing my fully leveled negotiator, flame thrower nanoswarms and wrist blades to remain relevant in combat, which would probably annoy anyone who had grown found of the earlier weapons.

I really don't remember any situation in ratchet i needed to replay more then 2-4 times in order to pass, but i can sympathize with your statements that gaming should not be tedious.

TreAtz said...

I wholeheartedly agree...95%. Most games seem like a chore; not really fun. Every now and then I enjoy a deep, challenging game, but only when I have larger chunks of time to sink into it, which is rare, being an adult with jobs/wife/responsibilities, etc.

I disagree with everyone who thought TMB was too hard...for a TM junkie like me, it was perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed finishing the game with every character.

Speaking of TM, is PS2 Head On still coming out around Xmas? Cmon, we've been in the desert for sooooooooo long...QUENCH OUR THIRST!! And please tell me those rumors of no online play are vicious, evil and unwarranted.

And how bout a true blue next gen TM too, hmmm? Complete with promo, hype, big production values, and of course fun, fun, fun.

Oh, and the problem with equating $$$ with length of game is developers will simply add boring filler to give the illusion of value. Give me more quality over quantity any day.

Unknown said...

I'm in agreement. Games that are extremely long, I think, can harm the overall experience and not just the part you won't get to after you get tired of playing.

When people make a game think "Ok, this game needs to be 50+ hours or gamers will hate it," it brings down the moment-to-moment gameplay too. So, not only are you probably not going to see half the game, the part you ARE playing is less exciting because designers have artificially increased total game length with repetitive activities, back tracking, long travel segments, lots of poorly-written yapping, hard sections with repeatable checkpoints, etc.

I've never not completed a movie I sat down to watch because it was too hard or after 10 viewings I just couldn't pass a scene. I get to the credits on all of them, and wish I could see to the end of more games.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you should NOT compromise Quality for Quantity. I mean, you could make ANY game 50+ hours... just have them run back and forth to the same areas, as part of your mission (almost all RPGs do this).
Yeah, they coulda made Heavenly Sword a nice long 15+ hour game, by writing the story such that she had to backtrack and re-visit areas... but why??!
I'd take the fresh, quality, 7-hour game anyday!
Ditto for CoD4. I'd much rather have the single player game at 6 hours, instead of having to replay over the same maps, and have it at 15+ hours.

Anonymous said...

Ratched and Clank the best platformer ever, Mario can suck my balls and eat my cum!

Daniel Purvis said...

I'm not going to bother reading all the past comments that are up here so excuse me if I repeat something.

For one, I believe you're missing the point in Ratchet, that character development such as levelling up your weapons is just one of the reasons why repeating sections in Ratchet and Clank DOESN'T feel like a chore, because you're still improving. Still levelling, unlike an RPG that wipes your progress.

Also, they've made it easy to be defeated by a challenge and then get straight back into it by allowing you to easily skip cutscenes and never placing them directly after a checkpoint.

Games ARE supposed to be a challenge though. If you simply want to be entertained, then why not go buy a film or watch an epic like LOTR if you want to be entertained for more than a few hours.

Yes R&T:ToD went a little longer than it should have but only because the game ceased to develop any further.

No closing statement.

Sniperwolfee said...

Hades wasn't so hard, i mean sure.
At the beginning one you tried it for the first time it was...kind of annoying. But once you got the hang of it...piece of cake.

Besides, you can't expect to escape HELL so easily!!
Otherwise we'd be loaded on the planet with evil and lonely souls.

R.Bunk said...

Dude if a game is complete in 6 hours, I am pissed.

I like long games. I don't mind putting it down and coming back to it.

R.Bunk said...

Man I have really, really been disappointed in your posts lately.

Why are you whining about long games? PS3 has a disk with 50GB Capacity, do you think they are all going to be tiny games?

If you like Ratchet, beat the bitch. It sounds like you wanted a Ratchet and Clank movie. At least that way all you have to do is hit the Play Button.

Anonymous said...

I hear your point. Spend five minutes playing some of those old arcade games (Donkey Kong, Joust, etc.) and you realize how frustrating and un-fun they can be.

Is this new Ratchet game any more or less frustrating then the old ones? I thought those were very well-balanced.

I think the reasons developers don't do what you advocate more is that everyone has a different opinion on "what's fun" v. "what's tedious." I really thought the puzzle and platform elements of GOW were frustrating, for example.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. To me the most frustrating thing about overly difficult games is replaying things. I don't like redoing things I've already done over and over just to get to the part I can't beat. We all know it's usually one part that you keep dying at but it takes five minutes to get back there. That's not a challenge, it's multiple challenges strung together, and you can beat all but the last one. It would be exactly the same challenge if you were allowed to save your state partway through and restart from there. I hate games that expect me to play perfectly for 20 minutes at a time just to progress. On the other hand I loved playing Mario Kart Double Dash until I got first place on every race on the circuit. One is my choice so it's fun, the other is someone else's choice so it sucks.

Whenever I play a game that has a quick save mode I tap it after just about every enemy or group of enemys killed and everyone else I've seen does the same. I challenge you to find me a single person that would choose to save as infrequently as games provide checkpoints. So why do designers insist on making their save points so spread out. I loved Metroid Prime when I was in high school and could sit down for hours to play. But I didn't get more than 45 minutes in to Metroid Prime 2 because I was in college and the first few times I played for a half hour and then got interrupted and realized I was half an hour away from the nearest save point I would just turn it off and lose my progress. There was literally no way to advance in that game without playing in at least one hour chunks. If your game is on the pc there's no excuse for not having a quick save button, and if it's on the console it should autosave frequently.

Anonymous said...

You want to know which game nailed it? The Simpson's Hit And Run.

If yoou failed on a mission a certain number of time (I think it was 5 or 6), the game basically said, "Uh, would you like to skip this mission?"

So R&C needs to either let you skip some of the dinos, or maybe slowly reduce the number of hits they take to kill.

This is not rocket science. You don't need complex algorithms analyzing the player's moves. Just racthet (heh heh) down a variable here and there as the level failures rack up.

Anonymous said...

Hit and Run was brutally hard though. Every mission was super hard. I picked it up again the other day and couldn't get anywhere. I like the "skip it" feature, but then you miss the cut scenes (I think), which are the main reason to play.

Anonymous said...

I was annoyed at the second R&C game when there suddenly was some mini game involving the spaceship that you had to pass to get to the rest of the game. I was good at the other parts of the game, but not at that. After a few hours, I put it away and never picked it up again.

Okami met the same fate with me. I was doing fine on the real game but I couldn't get past a mini game segment.

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Anonymous said...



eu4 console commands said...

For all the true Moana fans out there we made a song about Hei Hei and how he was a demigod too and he wants to steal the heart enjouyy! I've been staring at the edge of the boat
Longer than i can remember
I wish i could be a demigod
But i turned into a chicken
And no one loves me
No matter how hard I try

Every i peck I peck
Every rock i carve
Every sacrifice I made
Every journey leads back
To a world i know
Where i can not go
Where I long to be

See a hook
that I see
that i touch
I turn into a chickennnnnnnnn
And no knows i'm the first demigod
If I stay on this journey the heart will find meeeee
One day i'll know
If i go there's no telling if i can go back

I know every secret on this island
Seems so secretive on this island
Everythings all a lie

I know everybody on this islands
Everyone wants to cook me
Maybe i should run away

I can act innocent But i am magnificent
Because as you all know i'm the first demigod
But the voice inside keeps pecking my soul
I must get the hookkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

See the heart as it’s drawn on my rock
It’s carved for mee
But no one knowsss
How much power it hassss

ark survival evolved said...

Just gonna say the art style for this movie is impeccable and nothing like anything I've seen before. The mix of two dimensional figures with three dimensional figures is truly stunning.