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Failure and evolution as part of the gameplay loop, how can we make it better?

Gamingtodaynews1b - Failure and evolution as part of the gameplay loop, how can we make it better?

Learning how to deal with failure is a really important thing videogames can teach us better than any other media, because they are our failures as much as the characters. So how can we learn to make full use of that power? are there any games that do it well?

I've been a paleoanthropology nerd for most of my life, so when Ancestors: a Humankind Oddyssey was announced I was in the clouds, and even more because it came from the mind of the really talented Patrice Desilets.

But then the game came out and had a mild reception, and was quickly forgotten by most of the gaming zeitgeist, and sadly even by me…until the recent

re-sparked my interest and made me buy it.

The game…does not hold your hand, you get to control of your first hominid and you get a minimum guideline on what to do. There are a lot of unintuitive controls, the whole map is open but soft-locked under fear barriers and a lot of confusing on screen indicators and mechanics.

After dying in probably all of the ways ancient humans died and then some more, I finally ragequit, uninstalled and was ready to move on. But I somehow could not get the image of my dumb ape family, barely surviving in their waterfall home, from my head so I decided to give it another go, but only after reading some guides and tutorials, I'm now some 20 hours in and really liking it **…BUT…**


I realized that the dificulty and frustration was by design, you're supposed to die a lot, get frustrated, and try to work around the challenges, coming out on top through sheer creativity and force of will. The devs tried to tell that story, the story of how we came out on top of the planet's food chain after being the absolute underdogs of the jungles of Africa. We're supposed to aimlesly grab rocks and start hitting them with eachother until something significant happens. We're supposed to fail, and then fail a bit better, and then a bit better.

I just dont think they did a great job transmitting that. But why?

Celeste, even if it's on a completely different genre had a similar theme , and doesnt suffer from this, why though? I remember the game telling you at the very begining something like "you will fail a lot, and that's ok!" and counting the number of "deaths" as something to be proud of when you complete a challenge, as opposed to punishing you through mechanics.

Outer Wilds does this better as well, as you will die a thousand horrible deaths before those big AHA moments that make it all make sense. Deaths can set you back at most 10 minutes, so they're not especially punishing.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding this!

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