In my quest to learn more about game design, I decided to play God of War this past weekend.
I enjoyed the character, Kratos, and had a great time spinning his Blades of Chaos with Apollo's Ascension to hack enemies to bits. Then I came to the Rooftops of Athens, where I promptly got stuck. The room is like this: archers shoot at you while you jump from one vine-covered pillar to the next, then onto a platform.
Easy enough, right? I jumped over and killed the archers, then hopped nimbly back onto the vine-covered pillars. I could jump between the pillars easily, but the jump to the platform was simply impossible. I tried it dozens of times, and even recruited a gamer friend to help out. He just kept falling, too. Neither of us could figure out the catch.
I looked up three different online walkthroughs, and none of them spoke of that jump as being difficult at all. I went back and tried the jump another several times, then gave up in frustration.
Eager to feel some sense of success, I decided to give in and download the Peggle trial that Cuppycake suggested. The juxtaposition of genres nearly broke my soul.
After I won a few games, and got over the rainbows, woodland animals, and flashing colors, I found myself playing with the main menu. That's right. The main menu. I discovered that each of the buttons plays a different note on mouseover. There are eight buttons, one for each note of the scale.
Of course, the first song I played on my new Peggle xylophone was Ode to Joy, the music that plays when you win a game of Peggle. And I couldn't stop laughing, because that's exactly what the designers of Peggle must have been thinking when they assigned mouseover sounds.
On that note, it reminded me how important it is to include little things in your game that allow players to not only play in the game, but play with the game.
The other design lesson of the day is to not make jump puzzles so hard that the average player can't make it after several tries.
As for me, I'd love to see a Peggle interface mod with God of War graphics and sound. Can you imagine Kratos shedding a tear as you mouseover the Quit button?
Hahaha! I never noticed the mouseover sounds. I'll have to load it up at home again ;)
Peggle has a lot of emphasis on flashy music and fireworks for your screen. It's the essence of what a really good casual game should be. There's little doubt that the game is rewarding you for your successes - from the slo-mo on the final ball to the music and the emphasis on turning everything you encounter up to "11" - it's pachinko, alright, but even pachinko seems dull compared to Peggle.
You're right, Steve, though for my personal tastes, I think that the "Extreme Fever" could be toned down just a bit. :)
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