On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself struggling to proceed past a certain point in a computer game. The situation arises where a particularly intricate puzzle or sequence of jumps exists, with no save point to break things up.
Take my present example: I’m playing Tomb Raider Anniversary at the moment, and I am currently at the Damocles room. From the save point, I have to drop off a ledge, run through a doorway, through a room (avoiding falling swords), jump onto a small broken pillar, across to a crevice in the wall, up to the next crevice, around a corner, up onto a ledge, then climb up and around a pole, jump off towards a tall pillar (where I hang by my fingertips briefly before climbing up), across to another pillar, then over to an alcove in the wall. I drop from this alcove, hanging from a ledge. I scooch to the end of this ledge, and jump across to a crevice in an adjacent wall. I jump up to a slightly higher crevice, scooch along to the end of this, and then jump towards a metal ring set in the wall. I fire off a grappling hook while in mid-air, which catches onto the ring. While hanging from the rope, I run along the face of the wall until I reach a particular spot where I can jump outwards from the wall, towards a pillar that is behind me. I catch onto this pillar, pull up, and then jump to the top of another pillar. And then another. And then another.
I don’t know what happens next, because that’s as far as I’ve got. Failing to position any of these jumps correctly means a long fall. If the fall kills me, then I have to reload from the save point. Even if it doesn’t, I’m all the way back to running through the room avoiding fallen swords.
Here’s another example – I bought GTA: Vice City Stories a while ago. I got as far as a rather long, multi-part mission. But at every attempt, I was getting killed at the third part of the mission. Having to reload and replay the first part of the mission was taking at least five minutes each time. But it’s not so much the time that is annoying, it’s the boredom factor – it’s having to repeatedly perform the same actions that you have already proven yourself capable of, to the point at which you start making mistakes because the game is pissing you off.
Some people play games for the challenge. Me, I play for entertainment. When starting a game, I want to be able to select a “plentiful checkpoints” mode. Or a “anti-boredom mode”, where the game senses when you’ve hit a metaphorical brick wall, and pops up a little message saying *Hey, would you like to just skip this bit? Would it help if I put a little bridge just here, so you don’t have to make all those dull jumps yet again? What about if I gave you the ability to fly for ten seconds?*
I know that different people expect different things from computer games, which is why these settings should be optional. But for me, they would greatly enhance my enjoyment, which is basically, as far as I’m concerned, the whole point.