Bloodborne, Spelunky and other difficult games leverage nostalgia for a time before tutorials, according to Tim Schafer.
Double Fine boss Tim Schafer has had a lengthy chat with USGamer about difficulty, accessibility and game design.
According to the Grim Fandango, Full Throttle and Psychonauts creator, one of the most enjoyable aspects of games is not knowing what to do as soon as you approach an obstacle or puzzle. In designing adventures like Broken Age, he tries to balance making players think with keeping them from rage-quitting over difficulty spikes.
But there’s another approach – smoothing out the spikes until they don’t exist. Schafer related his experiences working with publishers while play testing his adventure games, and being advised to remove sections in which players had to experiment to solve puzzles.
“I just remember an important person at Microsoft telling me, ‘There are winners and losers out there. You should make the game for the losers because there’s a lot more of them,'” he added.
“I feel like there’s a current reaction to that, whether people are playing Super Meat Boy, Spelunky or Bloodborne, there’s a certain nostalgia for not knowing what’s going on all of the time. Not being told what to do. Having to figure it out.
“Even though those games are really hard. I think that’s a reaction to that period from 2000-2005 where things got a lot more tutorialized.”
There’s much, much more on this topic in the full interview, which also includes a pretty great bit about a duck, so you should go read it.