Super Meat Boy and Metrics as a Reward
This little XBLA darling has hit with a great amount of accolades from folks for it’s old-school platforming difficulty. The brutal yet simple formula is reminiscent of another recent Flash game turned XBLA port N+. This is a complement as much as a criticism of course, since N is a really fantastic game to compare to and all games that have the clout to transition from freeware to a market title deserve a comeuppance for their hard work.
There is a particular feature worth mentioning, too. Meat Boy presents a fun little offering to players who smash and grind their way to the completion of the levels in the game. The game logs the path (and death) of every single attempt as the player tries to complete each level. When the level is complete, it reviews a hilarious mish-mash of all of the player’s trials overlayed in a single animation. If the player had a particularly difficult time getting through the level (with more and more trials) the playback will be even more extravigant as every failed playthrough adds to the silliness and fanfare that occurs upon success.
This sort of technique can be used by developers to garner playtest information from players about problematic levels and frustrating level design. Playing back failures, exact paths and point of player death are useful metrics. However in this case they are playing back for the benefit of the player. At the very least, it’s an eye-catching display of silliness, and at best the player actually sees where they made mistakes and can learn to better their chances on the next level.