A small reflection inspired by a mail exchange with a player who was upset about our “no spoilers” policy.
Some players asked us why we didn’t include a hint system in the game, or why we force people to contact us in private if they want some help. The reason is simple: we are adventure gamers ourselves, grown up during the golden age of adventure games.
It wasn’t uncommon to remain hours or even days thinking about a puzzle that seemed unsolvable. You went to bed hoping the sleep would bring you enlightenment, you spent your working or school day thinking about that puzzle. You were actually playing even when you weren’t playing. Frustration was part of the experience, you could tell your gamer friends you were stuck and they would give you a compassionate hug. And after all that thinking, the light bulb appears, you try your idea, the puzzle is solved. That was the most satisfying thing ever. You grew up as a gamer, but also as a man.
The current average gamer has no time for that: he wants to advance fast, if he doesn’t figure a puzzle in a couple of minutes he either gives up or looks for a way to have the problem solved, especially in mobile gaming. That’s something we totally understand. But that’s something we don’t want for Kill Yourself. We target those players who are nostalgic about those days, who don’t mind about leaving a game for a couple of days and coming back as soon as they figure out what to do. What good would it be for them, if we put a walkthrough on our site or facebook page?
“But hints could still be there for those who want help, and if a gamer doesn’t want to use them, he isn’t forced to do so“, someone might say.
That’s true. But back in those days, hints existed too. It was just easier to avoid them. If you told a friend you were stuck and he already had solved that puzzle, he could have helped you. He just didn’t, because he knew that would mean ruining the whole purpose of playing a puzzle game. Nothing was more unsatisfactory than reading the solution to a problem and thinking “I could have solved it by myself”. If you loved the challenge, you felt that as a failure. The average adventure gamer cared more about solving the puzzles by himself than advancing in the plot. Discovering new rooms or plot twists was the reward for your efforts. You had to deserve it.
And if we put a hint system in the game, we know that even those nostalgic hardcore adventure gamers would be tempted to use it. When you have relief from your frustration at a finger’s distance, it’s extremely easy to give up. Sorry, but we don’t want that. If you really want help, you must write us or wait for someone to care enough to put a walkthrough on his website. Contacting us requires small effort, but that’s still a deterrent strong enough to keep our target demographic safe from that failure feeling that we all feared when playing.
That’s also why we tend do be as cryptic as possible when giving hints. We don’t know what kind of player you are and how much help is needed/wanted. If we just give the plain solution, someone who just wanted a little push would be disappointed, while now someone who wants the direct solution can always write us again and tell us the cryptic hint wasn’t enough.
the GuGames team