Difficulty is a Drug

A discussion on Metafilter about an article in Wired about the quality assurance and user testing for the upcoming Halo sequel, Halo 3 leads to some great insights from a QA tester from the Marathon: Durandal game team:

Shooting shotguns and rocket launchers is fun, and you can’t have any fun if you’re running away from being shot at. We remodeled the three rounds after the Enforcer round and added a fourth, to give us the opportunity to ramp better. Extending by a single round let us stretch out the intensity ramp enough to give players more playtime while still remaining challenging. … Difficulty is a drug: don’t hit people with a kilo at first. As they keep going, they’ll want a little more each time. Give it to them as they continue, not all up front, because you want them to play the game, not get killed out of the gate. So yeah, we could’ve started off high and fast, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun.

I’ve now decided that if I ever switch industries, game testing would be really fun – not the actual playing but decoding the mechanics of how to keep an experience engaging and exciting… where do players lose interest? Where is it too difficult? Too easy?
How do you temper your products and services and courses and seminars so you keep people challenged but not defeated?

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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