Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why I Love the Worst Game Ever

Recently I came across the Worst Game Ever. That's the game's actual name, not some description I've decided to bestow upon it. Available at adultswim.com, Worst Game Ever is an Aqua Teen Hunger Force themed flash game. Before I go into detail on the game, I'd like to invite you to go and play it for a few minutes. You don't have to beat it, but play it for a good two to four minutes - it takes a little bit of play to truly get the game. It's crazy how many things this game does well in order to make it feel like the Worst Game Ever.

The game starts off with it's main screen proclaiming in all caps "Go Right!!". Towards the bottom of the screen it says "Finish the game to see an exclusive clip from the movie". So immediately, the game has told me what my goal as a player is and what my reward is for finishing the game. Great job of motivating the player (assuming they are an Aqua Teen fan and would want to see an exclusive clip).

The screen is fairly basic during actual play. There are the characters of Master Shake and Meatwad on the screen, who you control. There is the ground you walk on. There is an empty bar labeled "progress", the number of lives you have, a score, and a counter for the number of exclusive clips viewed. That's about it.

As you move right in the game, your score increases and the progress bar slowly fills. What you may immediately notice is that you can't move left. There is no going back - you must keep moving towards the goal at all times. To cure the boredom of just moving, you may try hitting space bar to jump and make the game a little more entertaining. Don't. You don't get points when you jump.

You may try to put something heavy on the right arrow so you can leave the computer. Don't. While in the beginning of the game there is only a couple meatballs to jump over that will block you, eventually you come across a pit and even an enemy you must attack to continue. Leaving your computer with something heavy on the right arrow and coming back 30 minutes later is a sure way to have wasted time (though, playing this game properly is a sure way to waste time).

The game is literally trying to punish you for attempting to do anything that may alleviate you of the boredom of just moving right the entire time. It forces you to stay at your computer, much like the Desert Bus mini-game on the Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors game for the SegaCD (the game was never actually released, but you can find it out on the internet if you search). It lasts around 30 minutes (yes I played through the whole thing). It even mocks you!

There is a voice that spouts different things during the game. One time it said "It sure would be mean if there were no exclusive clip at the end of the game. Not saying there isn't. Just want to plant the seeds of doubt". Another time the voice said, "You ever play Gears of War? I bet it's pretty good! Better than this." The voice asks you if you are playing at work (how did it know?) and warns you to look out for your supervisor. It mocks you. It reminds you of the exclusive clips. It varies itself enough to just keep you barely entertained enough to sit there and play through the whole game.

This is why I love this game. It's delightfully subversive. Everything in its game mechanics is there to make you miserable and bored. To succeed at the game, you must pay attention and hold down right the entire time. The game makes fun of you for playing it. It punishes you for trying to entertain yourself within the game space. It eventually delivers an exclusive clip that underwhelms. But it gives you a score and lets you see other people's high scores. Clearly, that is all the motivation some people need to play a game.

This is why I love the Worst Game Ever. This is why I will never play it again.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Well, 2009 is upon us and I feel that I should make a few New Year's Resolutions (otherwise known as goals). Some of these are goals for myself and others are goals for the blog. There are all obtainable, though not all of them are in my control.

Here we go!

  • Update this blog more consistently, especially with non Design Lesson 101 columns
  • Never write "filler posts" or post after having too many drinks (you can not imagine how tempting it is to blog when drunk)
  • Become a more well-rounded designer and contribute more to the overall gaming community
  • Make at least one small game and post it on the internet (I have a bunch of games I've started but I keep losing focus to finish them - I need to fix this in 2009)
  • Play at least 20 full-length games from start to completion and learn something from each of them
  • Ship a game after being in the industry for almost four years
  • Update the layout of the blog page