Yesterday, I spent some time with a guildie trying to get through the jumping puzzle “Scavenger’s Chasm” in Malchor’s Leap. I had never done it before, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad. Our main problem had been trying to locate the 12 orbs which took us a long time (until we gave up and asked YouTube). The actual jumping was okay, thankfully. But in the evening, I talked to bookahnerk about our jumping puzzle adventure. He had done this one already, of course, as he is usually really great when it comes to jumping puzzles while I usually am not. I am, however, far superior when it comes to cursing and swearing when I fall down during such a puzzle. ;) I get frustrated easily, while he sees the jumping puzzles as a challenge. So – which one is it then? Frustration or challenge?
What usually makes jumping puzzles difficult for me is not the jumping itself, but trying to handle the camera view. It’s usually not that bad with my little asura, but when I’m on my charr, quite often I can’t see anything, because the camera moves in such a weird angle. It’s blind jumps, hoping I will land where I want to land. Another thing that really annoys me is when something looks like you can stand on it only to find out there’s an invisible wall. Or the other way around, that you can’t see a spot on which you can land, but it only looks too narrow (or is invisible) and is perfectly fine even for a charr’s paws. Let’s not forget jumping puzzles that take forever and just when you’re almost done, something happens that make you die and you have to start all over again.
Troll’s End (one of the jumping puzzles in Lion’s Arch) is a good example for jumps without being able to see where it goes as well as invisible places you need to stand on in order to do the following jump correctly. Take a look at the picture on the right. I had gotten very frustrated when trying to do this jump and I kept on failing which meant I had to go back to the start (which in itself isn’t easy for me either as I have a hard time getting on that first rock). At some point, by chance, I stood where I stand in the screenshot, kind of hanging right below the plank in the air. When jumping from this position, I always land on the rock behind. So far, I have not failed to do this jump anymore as long as I can get into that hanging position. This, of course, eliminated part of the frustration I had with this jumping puzzles, but it still doesn’t make it much fun.
To be honest, a lot of the jumping puzzles have something about it that frustrates me. I know that I’m not alone with this – and I know that there are people out there who don’t care about those issues at all and love the jumping puzzles regardless. To each their own and I admire people with more patience than me! It still made me wonder what has to be different to make the jumping puzzles fun for me as well, because I actually really do like this concept – and the occasional challenge!
I managed to narrow down the source of my frustration to the above-mentioned issues. Not being able to see which way to jump or where I can land is one thing, but if a wrong jump also means I’ll have to start all over again, I will quickly lose interest and give up. However, there is one jumping puzzle that stands out and that makes me wish all jumping puzzles had this mechanic: Spekks’s Laboratory!
Just a warning, the following video is a complete walk-through! Don’t watch if you don’t want a spoiler!
I can’t help but think that such a design for jumping puzzles would be so very helpful in removing the frustration for me. To explain it for those who do not want to watch the video: When you get through one part of a jumping puzzle, your progress is saved. If you die, you can restart at a”checkpoint” (see screenshot on the left). This way, you still have to do the jumping puzzle from beginning to end which means the challenge is still there, but you can mess up in the middle and do not need to redo the part you’ve already successfully done.
Maybe some will now argue that it reduces the challenge: “The challenge is not only to get through at some point, but to get through in one go with no mistakes whatsoever in between”. There could be a solution to that: If you get through via activating all checkpoints on the way but do not actually use those checkpoints, you can get an extra item from the reward chest. Or maybe get a guaranteed rare once per day per account or something like that.
To summarize: Most of the jumping puzzles are frustrating for me and less fun than they probably could be. Adding certain “checkpoints” along the way would take away much of my frustration. I could then fully focus on the actual challenge of a jumping puzzle which should not be the fight against the camera angle or invisible walls.
By the way, I want such a laboratory for my asura! The one she calls her home instance is lousy compared to that.