Designing for Difficulty

Orbitroids

Two games that I have recently been playing a lot are Celeste and Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. I highly recommend them both to anyone reading this. Something that each of these games are renowned for among the gaming community is their intense difficulty. These two are definitely not alone in that regard. Dark Souls, Geometry Wars, Super Meat Boy, N++, Spelunky, and a lot more have grown immense fan bases in part because of their unrelenting difficulty. Yet, conventional logic dictates that the harder you make your game, the more you will alienate large sections of your audience who don’t have the patience to master its mechanics.

Most people (including me) credit good design as the reason for the success of difficult games. It’s a lot easier to keep playing a level over and over if the next check point is right in front of you despite…

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