Back In My Day We Jumped Uphill Both Ways

The year is 1987 or thereabouts.  I get my first NES and start Mario Brothers.  Now, this game was frustrating and annoying.  You miss a jump, and you die.  Miss too many and you have to go all the way back to the start.  There is nothing worse than playing for hours, finally thinking you nailed it, screwing up, and being sent back to square one.

Getting the fire flower was total sploits! (Image from Wikipedia.)

What did we do about this back in the day, you ask?  Well first, we got frustrated, right?  And then, because we wanted to actually get to the damn end, we bought guides (with cheat codes) or the Game Genie or Game Shark that allowed us to cheat our way to the end, just to FINISH.

Up up left right B button (Image from Wikipedia)

But when you start reading about how to do it and cheating and whatnot, it immediately ends the sense of fun and wonder.  You have to memorize strats and you’re no longer discovering things for yourself.  You’re taking dictation and following instructions.

My HK-51 Questline

Fast forward to last week and I’m prancing through the Theoretika just as happy as can be.  Sure, I could be using a guide, but I’m having a lot of fun poking at doors, and then backtracking as the order I did things in was the least efficient possible.  Whatever.  Oh look, there’s a thing to click on!  Hey, there are 7 of these total.  I wonder if I missed one in one of the rooms I already went in?  I must find out.

I’m scooting around the ship and clicking on things to see what happens and all of a sudden, well I’m trapped.  This is supposed to happen.  I didn’t fuck up, but I’m trapped and have to get to the other side.  How?  You guessed it.  JUMPING.

Well fuck.  I suck at jumping.  Nonetheless, I bravely searched the room until I found the most likely way to get above the ick so I could cross.  After a few tries, I realized I had no earthly clue where to go from the top of the pipe where I was.  I fell off things and onto things, and kept doggedly trying a jump that I didn’t even know if it was technically possible to do, even for someone skilled.

I gave up.  I pulled up a guide.  When I saw the instructions, I realized that it would have taken me a very long time to figure out the circuitous path.

Hey guys, this is TOTALLY EASY! (Escher wuz here, yo)

There was alt tabbing.  There was, of course, falling, and with falling comes copious swearing.  I was halfway through and fell and I remember letting out one of those half-sob sighs, like OH NO I have to START OVER.

Why This Is Not Fun

Something that is supposed to be fun should not require instructions.  Instructions are for assembling furniture.  Instructions are not fun.  The instant something becomes frustrating enough to turn to instructions, it has lost a bit of the sense of discovery that attracted people to the game.

Poor IKEA man, that jump puzzle looks hard!

Something that is supposed to be fun should not require endless repetition of the beginning to get to the end.  This is why we have speeders at the start of raids, so when you’re halfway through and you wipe, you don’t have to run past all the stuff you killed.  It’s why in WoW you can extend your lockouts and don’t have to re-kill every starter boss every week in order to keep working on the last boss.  Having to repeat the first few jumps multiple times is just a blatant time sink for no good reason.

Something that is supposed to be fun should not gate a certain gaming population.  This is the whole reason behind story mode, that you let everyone see the content you created, regardless of whether they are any good at raiding.  I want to access the HK content.  At that point, there was a part of me that thought I might not actually get to have an HK.  Or I’d have to take extraordinary measures like enlisting some really good jumpers to do it FOR me while I waited on the other side.

Eventually, I kicked the sorry ass of the jumping puzzle.  It wasn’t an awesome sense of accomplishment.  I was relieved and annoyed – more annoyed when people started telling me the cheater ways that you could get across using cooldowns.  Well, why did they even think about trying alternate methods?  Oh right, because the jumping was so difficult and lame that they were looking for ways to avoid it.

An Open Letter

Dear Bioware,

No more jumping!

XOXO, me


Comments

Jumping Puzzles: Partying Like It’s 1989 — 27 Comments

  1. I can’t argue with your basic reasoning, but well… people’s experiences with these things vary a lot. For example I’m not good at jumping either, but I really liked the Theoretika puzzle because I could actually figure it out on my own, and it felt a lot easier than their usual fare. I was chuffed when I made it all the way over without any instructions or too much repetition. Where would you draw the line?

    • I started out without a guide but, because I had pretty much no experience jumping in-game up to that point, there was a diagonal jump that I didn’t know if it was possible – so I wouldn’t know whether not-making it was my ineptitude or whether it was just not possible and in fact NOT the way to go. It’s actually quite hard to eyeball these things when jumping doesn’t remotely obey the laws of physics.

  2. To be honest, Theoretika Jumping was easy… for me at least… then again I think it has something to do with your sense of orientation… if you can have trouble in Space battles on rails, then I’m not surprised…

    now, I think I’ve heard every complaint there is about the HK quest line…
    – “why do I have to team with someone to do it!?”
    – “why do I have to make an opposing faction toon to get a part?”
    – “why do you force us to go into an open PvP area?”
    – “why do we have to go through flashpoints!? I can’t do it! never found a group capable of passing a Hard Mode!”
    – “why doesn’t it unlock for every character?”
    – “why does it come with lvl 50 parts that I can’t equip? (for legacy unlock on lower level toons)”
    and now
    – “why’s there a jump section!?”

  3. I’ve been waiting for this post since I got to the second puzzle on Coruscant. And the third. And the first one on Dromund Kaas, with all the shoulder bruises.

    /signed

  4. I’m gonna have to disagree with ya on some parts, Njessi. Bothering to make some things difficult is one of the very few things Bioware did better than WoW, actual -challenge- and accomplishment whereas in WoW it just literally showers you in epics and rewards to make you feel better.

    Be it Flashpoints where you actually HAVE to pay attention and interrupt shit, or Jumping Puzzles that requires you to, same as raids, be aware of your surroundings and think on the fly, I applaud this part. Yes, it’s frustrating sometimes, I agree on that, but soldiering through to earn it makes it all the more meaningful once you do do it.

    I never did beat Mario Brothers on my own, either, but I never cheated at the original either ;x I DID however cheat on SMB3, but that was after I’d beaten it legitimately(and after much rage on some of World 8’s levels) – And god help you if you ever played Battletoads. Many controllers died to bring us the end of that game.

    Now while I agree on Story Mode being a good thing so people can see the content they created, I can’t agree on making HK easy to obtain. The PVP area was -stupid- on their part, yes, and it’s rather annoying to have to roll an alt to get the other faction piece(Though I’d done that already regardless of HK, it shouldn’t be “necessary”), but I pretty much solo’d the entire thing except for the final mission where you get ganked by a bunch of stealthed Sith and never had any hiccups or brick walls stopping me whatsoever up to that point.

    Bioware does alot of things wrong, but this isn’t one of them ;x

  5. Like all things, I think it’s subjective. Bioware is standing in multiple gaming pools with a lot of their content. One of the problems with doing that is you run the risk of alienating certain members of the playerbase. It’s apparent they have a firm grasp on where global content difficulty should be, as they patch in “nerfs” to jumping/placement difficulty for ops/flashpoints just as regularly as the patch in increases or decreases to boss/mob health/damage/timers etc etc.

    Because they view those areas as their “for everyone content” it seems to me they view the optional content like Holocrons, bonus series, and now HK as sandboxes they can play in for what they WANT to do. Homage’s if you will to different game types or other difficulty levels. Jess hates the Jumping and space, other people CANNOT get interrupt timers down, or can’t move out of the bad in a boss fight. If you take note of patch history it’s those things that are evened out across the games content. They only leave them at extreme ends in the areas that they believe to be special.

    • I feel like HK isn’t as “optional” as other things. They *heavily* advertised this new content as a *big deal* and I was under the impression that they DO want everyone to see it.

  6. I haven’t done the HK search yet, but it sure seems a lot more work and a lot less fun. Like I haven’t talked to anyone- friends, guildies, random strangers – who was like “Having a blast finding HK” and it’s more like “Gotta go to another stupid world and find another stupid part”.

  7. The open-world PvP bit didn’t bother me, but I did it on my Scoundrel and I was invisible and waaay out of detection range of the 3-4 other players I saw, so maybe not a fair comparison.

    The jumping bit, that pissed me off. I’ve been saying it since EGA: some of the designs in this game are clearly based on a console understanding of gaming, and they do not translate well into an environment in which the server and the client may have very different idea of where you are (or where that MOB is in relation to you.) Down with jumping puzzles!

    • Yes! Also it’s really counterintuitive if you live on EARTH. In WoW, I was having trouble getting on pillars, because in my mind, the way to get on top of something is run up to it and then jump BEFORE you get to it because then you have a diagonal trajectory etc. For that jump in WoW and for many other jumps in wow and in this game, you can (and should) be already standing next to it, jump up, and then hit the forward button whilst in the air. Changing direction when already in the air? What sort of madness is that?

      • I agree. Jumping mechanics in this game is tardish, at best. If you run forward, the momentum should carry you further. Basic physics. I guess the swtor designer of that bit fell asleep in science class a lot.

        I still have yet to do anything with HK, really. I did Theo. Even ran it a few times, with other ppl that hadn’t done it and needed a hand figuring out the routine.
        But have yet to look for a part.
        The most I have done with finding parts is play bulldog when some guildies were hunting in the pvp zone on Tat. That was fun.

        Too busy running dailies and crafting orange moddables for the GTN, atm. Trying to get enough to buy one of the Thrones for sale. 😀 HK musteth waiteth.

        • To be fair, forward momentum pre-jump does make SOME difference. For proof, try making the leap in False Emperor both with and without Force Speed/Rocket Boost–without is far trickier.

  8. That doesn’t sound very fun to me. I’m all for a certain degree of challenge, but I’ve never found jumping puzzles to be particularly engaging. They had a lot of those when I tried out Guild Wars 2 and while I was pretty good at figuring them out, I didn’t really enjoy them. I didn’t feel like they added to the game or were a worthwhile use of my time.

    So I can completely understand what you mean about things that are supposed to be fun (and how jumping puzzles don’t fit into that category). Sadly, a lot of not-so-great ideas in MMOs get rehashed because people aren’t willing to come up with new things. I could see maybe using a jumping puzzle for some completely unnecessary easter egg or something. But for something advertised as a major new attraction in the game, that just seems silly and/or sadistic. As I said.. I’m all for challenge, but that’s just tedious and kind of annoying.

  9. The Theoretika jumping puzzle wasn’t all that challenging IMO. First time I made it through guide-free in about 2-3 mins without dying once. Second time I missed the 1 challenging jump from the pipe to the platform and fell in the goo. Landed close to the edge and rolled right out onto the platform and only took about 5% damage. I actually thought this one was quite fun and it reminded me of my days playing Half-life. Sorry it wasn’t your thing though. Oh yeah I hated Mario when I was a kid.

  10. I ran the group with another player (yes, a PUG) and I was never able to make it alive… but I got close enough that when I fell in he was able to revive me from the safe side.

    The issue with these things is that you are suddenly, at a late stage in the game, testing a skill that has not been required at any point previously. To flip Zeddie’s comment on its head, the complaints are that this questline drags in everything that anyone does anywhere in the game, so you had to already be doing all the activities that exist in order not to be confronted with something you do not enjoy.

    • That’s a good point and reminds me of one of the WoW battles in the trial of the crusader. It’s essentially a pvp fight against npc’s of the opposite faction. Before that battle, many of us had to put abilities on our toolbars that we almost never used and, for those of us who don’t PvP, learn a completely new way to use our abilities. All of the PvP rules, like crowd control, with which we were not familiar applied. Sure, eventually, we beat it, but it felt like a bait-and-switch in using a skillset that we had no reason to develop before.

  11. I didn’t find that puzzle to be that difficult but I think it had a lot to do with some of the jump puzzles for the datacrons, the +AIM one on Nar Shaddaa comes to mind. That one took me forever, but during it I got feel for the two jumps that are available in SWTOR. There’s a vertical jump and a horizontal jump. The vertical just is easy, just spacebar without direction keys immediately, you can add direction once in the air for a small amount of horizontal movement. The horizontal jump takes a little more timing, after pressing the spacebar, while your toon is still in the pre-jump crouch, add the direction key, it’s almost simultaneous key presses but the direction key is a quarter second later. I found that once I understood how to execute the two, jumping in SWTOR became much easier.

      • You have slight repulsorlift generators in your belt and boots Jess, also as a Jedi you’re just using the force to move your trajectory slightly. – Physics problems fixed.

  12. Jumping isn’t needed for Sages and Sorcs if they run up the heal tree. After getting SOOOOOOO PO-ed about the jumping ame on my JK, I did it on my healing Sage. I bubbled, HoT-ed, and laid a circle of love in the middle of the water, then force sped through.

    Voila, no jumping. About 1/3 health left though.

  13. I’m totally reading back through old posts… when this first was published I hadn’t gotten my HK yet, so I had no idea what you were talking about.

    But yeah. Jumping puzzle hate solidarity here >.< The Theoretika wasn't so bad for me, because I followed guildies, but in general it's a nightmare. The worst ones for me seem to have involved getting datacrons (the Aim+4 one on Alderaan comes to mind, which involves jumping onto the tiny platform of a malfunctioning cable car and riding it down to a tiny island you can't otherwise get to. I made my husband take that route to the island and then harpoon shot me up to him with a duel)–which, as someone pointed out above, is totally optional.

    I have to ask, because I know you played WoW: did you ever have trouble in Naxx (the Wrath version, not the version in vanilla) with the jump to Thaddeus' platform? I used to piss my guild off SO BAD because I could just not make that jump reliably. And if you didn't make the jump, you fucked up the charges on the boss, and yeah… jumping sucks.

    • As a priest, I used levitate. As a druid, I changed into cat form and used sprint to make the jump. As any other class, I was totally screwed.