How Spelunky Makes Randomised Levels Feel So Good

How Spelunky Makes Randomised Levels Feel So Good

The temperatures are rising, but who cares? Stay inside with Worth Reading, our weekly roundup of the best games analysis around.

Hey, You Should Read These

OK, yes, so that’s a video from Mark Brown, but it’s so well done that I had to share it. Plus, there’s no reason to hold words more precious above videos in 2016; the landscape has changed. If you’re interested in the building blocks of game design, subscribe to Brown’s channel; every video has become required viewing for me. In this one, he uses a new book by Spelunky designer Derek Yu to explain how the platformer manages to build levels that feel hand-crafted, despite being the result of an algorithm. (The truth is somewhere in the middle.)

How Spelunky Makes Randomised Levels Feel So Good

This seemed appropriate, given the conversation about Dark Souls and easy modes last week. I’m always fascinated by games that try to provide robust accessibility options, and in the case of Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog seems to have gone even further with its “explorer” difficulty mode. “Difficulty” might be a stretch, though, as it seems to be the equivalent of a story-only mode. You still have to move through the game’s combat sections, but the challenge drops out.

“You may say that by using Explorer mode I missed out on the joy of popping out of cover and taking out an enemy with a well-placed headshot. I say to you that you have missed out on the joy of swinging to and fro on a grappling hook like a madman above 20 gun-toting henchmen, blindly spraying fire beneath you like a ceaseless torrent of acid rain. Other players get frustrated when the game inevitably totes out ‘bullet sponge’ enemies that take 100 machine-gun rounds to the head before they die. I merely saw them as equals.”

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Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Ethan Thibault examined what the future of full motion video is in games.
  • Philippa Warr humorously broke down how people tend to speak of Dark Souls in metaphors. It’s almost as bad as saying “It’s the Dark Souls of X.”
  • Will Hindmarch analysed the world building in The Division and how it tries to blur the traditional lines of good vs. bad.
  • Christopher Livingston ranked the best hand animations in first-person games. (It’s Firewatch.)
  • Mike Perna wrote about how Stardew Valley feels like work, in a good way.
  • Levi Rubeck looked back at the cycle of life and death in the deeply underrated Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. Always meant to play that one.