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Platforming without botomless pits: your opinion?

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I assume the origin of such things as botomless pits, instakill spikes and such is somewhere in the arcade games of yore where everything killed the player character in one hit anyway to entice the player to put just a bit more money into the machine again.

(Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I am not exactly an authority on the subject. Very Happy)

Later though games with 'hearts' and health bars appeared, thus giving a bit more leeway to the player, a bit more room for error before the player character died. Which allowed for more complex gameplay rules to be developed in future games. Botomless pits remained though. And surfaces coated with instakill spikes too.

I find myself wondering why. I assume that technical limitations made it easier for an area to be designated as 'you die' instead of making each and every pitfall an area you can actually climb out of or programming in a certain height after which a fall becomes instantaneously lethal instead of the floor itself just being so in the past, but that no longer seems to be an impossible hurdle to work around.

'Don't fix what works' and people coming to like the games they've been brought up on and thus voting with their wallet to make more games like this are the reasons I can see for this trend to prevail. Some games have managed to work in something interesting around this gameplay element too, like Prince of Persia Sands of Time trilogy, for example.

But let's assume those concerns are not a problem for a minute. Is it impossible to make a platformer game enjoyable without botomless pits and instadeath spikes?

Personally, I find these gameplay elements extremely frustrating in this particular genre (and probably instadeath spells in RPGs as well, but that's neither here nor there). But I have to wonder if I'm simply missing something. Or just happen to be outside the target audience too much.

I think I've seen some examples of jumping games that limit the amount of pitfalls, lava, acid, water, etc that spell your doom the moment you touch them, or even do away with them entirely (Metroid seems to be one such series, if the bits and pieces of them I've seen on Arche's stream are anything to go by), but they seem to be in the minority.

What do you think?

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I agree with you one hundred percent. Do yourself a favor and play Freedom Planet. It's an amazing indie platformer that started off as a Sonic fan game but grew into its own thing. One of the many reasons I find it so much more enjoyable to play than Sonic is precisely because there are no bottomless pits in the game.

So, I guess I've aready answered your question - I do strongly believe that a platformer can be enjoyable without bottomless pits and insta-death spikes. In fact, I'd say it's more fun, personally. Dying to bottomless pits frustrates me whereas a game like Freedom Planet that offers a different kind of challenge that doesn't need bottomless pits is more appropriately difficult, in my opinion.

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Bottomless pits are a nice element to create tension, but I don't want that throughout the entirety of the game. I think the best way to implement them is towards the end of the game. If you have 10 levels in a game, let's say you start including progressively more of them from level 7 onwards. If the final level is all bottomless pits, that's fine, and cool actually, but don't force it on me throughout all of the game. If you do have them early on in the game, at least don't penalize me a lot for failing. I'm currently playing the second Shantae game. It does have a couple of small bottomless pits in the first area, but you only lose a quarter of a heart or so, if you fall down, and you're reset to the beginning of the room. And since individual rooms are relatively small, I don't mind it at all, actually. In conclusion, well if you want to integrate bottomless pits, the balance between challenge and punishment has to be handled well.

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