Wednesday, October 6, 2010

EXP Podcast #98: Stuck in the Game

It happens to everyone: everything is going according to plan when suddenly, you run into a virtual brick wall. Whether this obstacle is a particularly cruel boss battle, an demanding time limit, or a mind-bending puzzle, the result is the same: you’re stuck! This week, we use Michelle Baldwin’s piece about her odyssey to slay a mighty dragon that had been tormenting her and a friend for months. Along the way we discuss some of our own personal battles, various design choices that both lead into and out of tough situations, and the social dynamics of being stuck alongside others. As always, we hope you stick with us until the end and venture into the comments with your thoughts.

Some discussion starters:

- Have you ever experienced any notorious instances of being stuck in a game? Did you ever overcome the barrier, or was it the end of the line?

- Is there an optimal way to help players through rough spots?

- How does being stuck in a multiplayer game (either cooperative or competitive) change your experience?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 26 min 13 sec
- “Stuck,” by Michelle Baldwin, via
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. My best "stuck" examples are from Metroid Prime.
    Especially since I never finished any of them.
    Metroid Prime's Omega Pirate stopped me in my tracks. Even reading FAQs and guides didn't help me bring this damn thing down.
    Took me half a year to pick the game up again. And then suddenly it clicked. The bastard was still a bitch to bring down, but manageable.
    Sometimes walking away from a game, getting some distance is just what I need to get a new perspective on seemingly unsolvable "stuck" situations...

  2. Hi Seb!

    I hear you on the Metroid Prime games; they were pretty tough in spots.

    You bring up an interesting phenomenon in taking a break in order to get things to "click." Sometimes I find myself failing the same challenge time after time and then blowing through it in one try the next day.

  3. This was a great topic for a podcast, and it reminds me of several times I've been stuck for a different reason - problems with the controller or hardware. I'd love to hear you explore this topic. To illustrate what I mean, I once spent two and a half hours trying to get Link to fish successfully at the tutorial phase of Twilight Princess. Seriously! I really wanted to play the game but I just couldn't figure out how to move the controller to catch a fish! Fortunately, that was the only time I got stuck in this way during the whole game.

    Getting stuck because of poor hardware is really a PC gaming issue. I've often played with a limited PC which only seems to reveal it's shortcomings during the dramatic boss battles. It's not that I don't know how to win the battle, it's just that the machine seizes up just as a dozen or more enemies come at me.

    I can imagine other players have probably been stuck by the problem of slightly broken controllers, missing booklets, absent instructions, or unforgivable internet lag.

    Thanks for this great show!

  4. Hey Jesse,

    And thank you for listening!

    Coincidentally, I just wrote something about the trials of hardware/software problems in games. Have any good war stories?