Sunday, 28 October 2012

[GW2] The Mouse Ran up the Clock

I have to disagree with some of my lovely fellow bloggers out there about the latest piece of GW2 controversy - the Mad Kings Clock Tower. A jumping puzzle so devilishly difficult that the creator - Josh Foreman - has stated that he anticipated only 5% of players would be able to beat it.

I think if you're going to make a very difficult piece of content then it is perfectly reasonable if some people are not skilled enough to complete it. That is the very nature of difficult content - whether it's for a festival or not. The fact that people are able to legitimately complete it at all means that it isn't too difficult - ie, unbeatable. And I think some of the hate (particularly from those standing in the lobby waiting to try again) comes not from the failing in the design, but simply from it's high skill requirement.

I had a torrid time getting the puzzle done - and it took me well over 2 hours of constantly trying. But I had a heap of fun doing it. For once it was a jumping puzzle which truly challenged me, and not just making it to the end after a long-haul and a couple of deaths and thinking "Phew, that was tough!" but rather getting to the end and taking all my clothes off and dancing like a madman screaming "YES, I CAN SLEEP! FINALLY, I CAN SLEEP!". I have not encountered any other single piece of content in the game so far which has evoked that kind of reaction from me - not even defeating the mighty Zaitan (please, really?).

I didn't have any trouble with the camera or unclear edges. At least no more than with any of the other jumping puzzles. They were factors I knew I would have to take into account before I even started the puzzle. They are factors that anyone who has done any jumping puzzles before must have known they would have to take into account.

Click to enlarge
I will concede that it can be difficult when you've got some fattie norns and charr obscuring your view. But really that is only for the first 20 seconds of the puzzle and I can't help but feel the entire thing would lose some of it's appeal if it was the only JP in the game to force you to do it alone/with a party only. I liked the social element - waiting at the bottom to see who would come back, and who made it to the top, hurling abuse at the chubby norn up front - it was part of the whole madness of the experience.

Sometimes I over or under-jumped and went headfirst into the soup. Sometimes I got flustered because the vortex was on my tail and mistimed a leap. At the time I might have put that down to bad design, but really I know that they were the parameters of the puzzle - a difficult jumping puzzle with the added pressure of a timed element.

I know this won't be a popular opinion. But I can't help but feel that this puzzle is fiendishly difficult, and that is the main reason it is receiving such a large amount of bad press.

It is a puzzle which requires significant practice, a lot of patience and a sliver of luck - but once you get it, it is perfectly achievable and uniquely satisfying. Not every single piece of content should be easy enough for every player to complete straight off the bat. That would be bad game design.


  1. I think A.Net took the wrong approach with holiday events. I'm all for rares and challenges. However, I don't think holiday events are the place for those. It should be more about fun and the experience. Not super rare skins in chests and jumping puzzles that a lot of people just wont be able to do no matter how much they try. 

    Holiday should have an easy to get item or two, and fun things like the doors, mining candy, and the two pvp things in the mad king realm as well as the page hunt. 

  2. You're welcome to your opinion but dismissing ours because you didn't have any camera problems or problems with invisible edges and then saying we should have anticipated badly mapped art is a bit of a ridiculous critique of our responses.  I've criticized amongst my friends bad camera angles in every jumping puzzle I've noticed them, none of those have the time limit or time window in which to complete them so it matters much less.

    I'll also go ahead and argue that since festivals are a limited time only thing that yes, they do need to be accessible to everyone. 

  3. I'm not dismissing your opinions, I didn't mean for it to be interpreted that way, at least. I think I mentioned each of your criticisms and then gave my opinions as a response - some I agreed with, some I didn't. I'm not saying that I didn't experience the invisible edges either - I'm just saying they were no worse than any other jumping puzzle.

    I have seen Rav's "hard means bad design" vs "hard because of bad design" comment at the bottom of his post. But I simply don't believe that the puzzle was designed poorly.

    Either way, it's such a polarising subject that it has created two rival reddit threads :D which is quite amusing.

  4. I get what everyone is saying about festival content being accessible. But wouldn't it be terribly mundane if  every holiday we just received another thing to do, which is totally devoid of any challenge? Just going through the motions so that we can get the title (think carving pumpkins). 

    It's not a game if there is no challenge, it's just a tour of the artwork. And, as excellent as the artwork is, I could look at videos or screenshots online if I wanted to just stand around and look at it. I want to be challenged; I want the satisfaction of completing something because it required thought, skill, and competence rather than just the input of time. Features which require nothing but time are the real grind, not ones which are difficult, but possible to be completed right off the bat. 



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