Intuitive Systems

So, I saw an ad for a game that‘s about to come out; the whole pitch was just a name and an 8 second clip of a pixel art character jumping onto a wall and climbing to the top. This, I imagine, is one of about 4 million games that are trying to ride Celeste’s coattails. However, the illusion was immediately broken when a meter, presumably for stamina/grip, appeared immediately. So, the only information I have about this game is that it had climbing and addresses the limits of his long you can hold onto something with the elegance of a giraffe in a coal mine.

Obviously having a meter isn't a death knell for every game or mechanic that it accompanies. The quick graphic for this game honestly just seemed to yell at me that this was happening. In contrast, the stamina in Celeste is perfectly communicated by visuals and controller vibration. I had the experience of hearing Maddy Thorson describe it and make points that I already knew intimately, even though I had never put them into words.

What are some quality, intuitive systems? I obsess over subtleties in visual language and other communicative design flourishes, especially because I've been playing mostly action games recently. I find it interesting to realize when some cue of an enemy's windup or a trap is something that I don't notice or that I _do_ notice.

The only other example I can think of right now is Dead Cells. There are enemies whose only purpose is to make every enemy around them mostly invisible; whenever you there this radius of invisible enemies, there is a cloudy effect in the foreground as an indicator. It took me, if I'm not mistaken, close to two hundred hours of game to realize this was happening, **but** I had already noticed how accurately I was able to predict these patches of invisible monsters long before that.

I don‘t know about “intuitive” since this is just a more elegant version of the meter thing but in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia I love how a weapon’s effectiveness against a particular enemy is communicated to you: if it's strong, the enemy flashes red when hit; if weak, it flashes blue. Depending on the enemy type a sound effect will accompany each of these visuals as well, for example attacking a fleshy creature with a rapier will trigger a red flash and a sound like flesh being pierced with a blade, while a blunt weapon will trigger a blue flash and a much less satisfying thud.

Now, you could also look at the huge numbers which show exactly how much damage you're doing to the enemy (numbers in single digits are _not_ effective), or at the bestiary entry telling you exactly what kind of weapons work against it, but I appreciate that these extra visuals and sounds are there. Makes me wonder, would Dark Souls feel nicer with such a system in place...