OMG Hard Game Design

edited in General
There's been a lot of talk at the CT meetings about "hard" game design. Just came across this gem from Terry Cavanagh's VVVVVV, while playing through my steam queue .


So to explain what is happening here for those who haven't played VVVVVV before. You start at the top left corner, and then make a simple fall down the tube on the left hand side. You fall for an eternity, six whole screens to be precise. But avoiding the spikes on the sides is pretty easy because you simply have to fall straight down. On your right though you are given a prelude of gratuitous spiky doom.

When you finally reach the bottom you still have no idea where this is going. On the bottom screen all you can see is an information terminal (which, btw, is there to mock you), a check point and a secret pickup. Upon sight of TREASURE you instantly forget about the spiky doom you just witnessed, and start hi-fiving yourself for finding another secret. But then you bump against that tiny little hippo barrier and remember you cant jump in VVVVVV, you can only reverse gravity. And then the horrific realization dawns upon you that you're going to have to navigate 6 screens of spiky death, TWICE!

At which point you want to cry and congratulate Terry for being a sick sun of a gun.
Thanked by 1Merrik


  • Also the platform half way through the spiky ordeal is a crumbling platform. Because fuck you, that's why!

    But I finally made it (about an hour later) :D

  • I remember this. VVVVVV is nuts, I haven't finished it yet :)
  • VVVVVV pfft you need more Super Hexagon ;)
  • I only made Hexagon (60.24) on Hexagoner. Hexagonest I can't touch that (hammer time).
  • I'm pretty sure that's the best example of a knee-high-wall in game design, ever.
  • I'm picturing the face of someone who gets to the top, gets to the bottom...

    ...and lands on the wrong side of the wall.

  • Actually i'm playing VVVVVV becuase i've finished hyper hexagonest. It interesting you don't really finish games that hard. You merely train your lizard brain to stand a chance of finishing it for you.

    And, yes, there must be something wrong with me!

    @tuism, that was in the front of my mind the whole time. I finally made it the bottom and over-corrected and into the spikes. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuu! Fortunately games that hard, you dont really get there by fluke. If you can get near, you can probably get there again because by now you've trained your brain through endless repitition...
  • That looks awesome. Must say that it's the one thing about indie games, you can make them super hard. Not this auto-headshot-aim nonsense.
  • @TheFuntastic I am impressed! I'm only 28 seconds into Hyper Hexagonest. I've played quite a bit of VVVVVV but haven't finished it yet. I prefer it to SMB, while SMB was just brutally hard I think Cavanagh has a gift for making things really challenging, when I fail in Super Hexagon or VVVVVVV I don't feel like the game has cheated be but I have failed the game. In SMB I sometimes feel like my death was more the games fault than my own.
  • The difference in challenge between VVVVVV + Hexagon VS SMB... SMB seems really grindy and gets repetitive. Whereas the Cavanagh kind of repetition throws you fresh challenges that alter in small subtle chunks that make a huge difference in the play.

    I do prefer Cavanagh style over SMB.
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