Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Law of Repeatability and its Relationship with Masochism

I've encountered the basic truth of this law many times in my platform gaming career. I've honed down the mathematical equation, so that I can now reliably predict exactly when playing a platform/action game turns from pleasure to masochistic torture.

The Law of Repeatability (Copyright Linda Solomon 2006) states that the ability to repeat a certain level, or stage between save points - R - is indirectly proportional to the number of times that the player has already repeated this area - n - and the number of hours passed normal bedtime - h.

In mathematical terms, R% = 1/ (n + h) x 100.

For example, in a certain *almost finished the game, gotta just do this last area* stage of Ico, I managed to get most of the way up a complicated structure. I had swum around for minutes, climbed ladders, rode spinning wheels, maneuvered my way over narrow poles and swung on chains. I had deftly defied bad camera angles that sought to thwart my progress, and judged distances and angles for jumps where little information was available. Alas, so close to success, I fell all the way back to the bottom.

So according to the Law of Repeatability, I had R% = 1 / (1 + 1) x 100 = 50% chance of repeating that area that I had completed. So I attempted it again, and managed to get a portion of the way, accidentally making a stupid jump which cost me another attempt.

Third time lucky? This time I only had a 33.3% chance of making it all the way. Predictably enough, I made another stupid mistake, and walked off a narrow ledge. Back to square one.

I noted my odds of completing this section sinking with my pride. Now it was down to 25%, and falling. Ok, one more try. This time I actually got a bit further than previous attempts, but the swinging chains did me in. I tried to swing from a bit higher on the chain, and managed to miss what I had previously jumped. At 20%, I realised I was done for.

I've found that masochism starts kicking in at around 10%, where you may find yourself physically assailing your body in an attempt to feel physically the emotional damage being inflicted on your psyche. Should you have any sort of masochistic tendencies, stay away from certain games such as Prince of Persia, or ICO, when the Law of Repeatability falls below this fatal level.

This is one masochist signing off for bed....


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