Jumping puzzles are the worst.

jumpingWe all have our white whales when it comes to MMO features or issues that we dearly wish would eat a barbed harpoon and then bleed out while uncaring players hacked away at their blubbery corpse.  For some it’s raiding, others it’s welfare epics, but for me, it’s jumping puzzles.

They are, and I cannot emphasize this enough, the worst.

This rant comes to you specifically from an event the other night, in which I was attempting to get to another SWTOR datacron, most all of which are tucked away at the end of jumping puzzles.  Whoever decided that jumping puzzles were the way to go in SWTOR obviously never talked to the animators, because my character has such tempermental, inconsistant jumping abilities that I am pretty sure an RNG rolls to check whether or not I’m going to even hop when I slam on the spacebar.  It is certainly not a game that offers precision jumping and handling controls, because that’s not what MMORPGs are about.  But here we have a bucket of free stats walled off by inexcusable, inexplicable platforming elements.

With the decrease in latency and the increase in poor judgement in developers, jumping puzzles are cropping up all over the place.  Guild Wars 2 has so many of them that the only explanation is a severe fetish over at ArenaNet that needs attention by counselors before someone gets hurt.  WildStar thought jumping puzzles were so cool that it devoted an entire path to them — although, to be fair, no one is forced down that path and there are double-jumps, which are super-sweet.  One of the most frustrating RIFT quests in Storm Legion involved jumping to the top of a tower while being given an overdose of jumping power, so that it was incredibly common to overshoot everything.

Jumping in platformer titles is common, expected, and makes sense.  It’s part of what those games are.  But MMOs were never about platforming as a key gameplay element; our obstacles are bundles of numbers that we fight with other bundles of numbers.

I’ve seen some people defend jumping puzzles as “fun” and “another type of gameplay,” and while they are dead wrong, I suppose I should justify why I hate them so much in MMOs.  First, at no point did I pick up an MMO hoping for a platforming experience.  I love these games primarily because they are more about strategy and RPG tropes and not about twitch-based, reflex-centric gaming.  Some of us (older?) gamers don’t care to play Mario Bros. all over again.  We’ve done that.  We are now interested in these games instead and resent the invasion of platforming influences.

Second, jumping puzzles are the worst when they are mandatory to a quest, an event, or hold a much-needed/desired reward at the end of them.  I can ignore their inclusion otherwise, but when I feel pressured into doing them because I’ll miss out on advancement otherwise, the rebellious backlash brews within me.

Third, there is still enough latency and multiplayer issues that can make jumping puzzles far harder than they need to be.  Missing a jump because the server hiccupped or because a giant player character obscured your vision takes the blame for the fail away from us while still making us eat the penalty.

Fourth, jumping puzzles are unforgiving by design.  Mess up just once, and you have to do them all over again.  Checkpoints?  Ways to rebound from a setback?  Pshaw.  That might exist in other areas of the MMO, but not here.  Of COURSE not here.

Fifth, repeated failures are frustrating and lead to immense disatisfaction with the game and its designers.  I don’t need to be handed everything on a silver platter, but I don’t like it when the game I’m playing decides to become this OTHER type of game and then slam me into the ground over and over again to demonstrate how gravity works and how I have poor depth perception.

And sixth, jumping animations are… how shall I put this?  Are not usually the strongest part of the MMO portfolio.  Do devs want to us to repeatedly witness the goofy pose that our character makes while in mid-jump?  So few MMOs get jumping “right,” both in looks and feels.  Jumping puzzles rubs our faces in it.

The thing is, I’m certainly not against jumping.  It can be fun, especially when you’re left to do it on your own as part of personal amusement or exploration.  Seeing if you can get to a spot for the sake of it is far more enjoyable than having a timed guided path where the platforms start disappearing on you and you have to make 16 perfect hops in a row to reach that epic chest of loot.

Jumping puzzles.  Stahp.  You are not as loved or cool as you think you are.

16 thoughts on “Jumping puzzles are the worst.

  1. Pierre December 24, 2014 / 10:59 am

    I’m 100 % with you Justin on this serious issue.
    Jumping puzzles to find datacrons are very interesting for the “puzzle solving” phase: you try and find where the datacrons could be located, try to see the bright halo they emit from afar. When located, you try to find the proper way to reach them, it’s like solving some kind of labyrinth puzzle and I find it very fun.
    But as soon as the “jumping” phase itself starts, it’s torture and nothing else. As you mention, you have to be extremely accurate with controls which are all but accurate and it’s punishing as hell.
    I remember having to give up accessing a datacron (I think it’s one on Coruscant) because my Trooper couldn’t pass some pipe junction as if some invisible obstacle was there in the middle of the path. After 1 hour trying everything, I gave up. It was really frustrating as I did locate the datacron and found the proper passage to it and was somehow proud of my expected (but never achieved) success.

  2. Tyler F.M. Edwards December 24, 2014 / 11:58 am

    I hate platforming mechanics with the fury of a thousand dying suns. I really can’t believe they still exist. I guess some people must enjoy them, but I’d rather try to impregnate a light socket.

    Jumping puzzles must die.

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus December 24, 2014 / 12:34 pm

    You are so wrong! Jumping puzzles are literally the best thing ever. They require skill and effort and weed out the non-hackers who cannot be bothered to expend any effort and expect everything to be handed to them! Go back to WoW if you don’t like jumping puzzles.

    I hope that ArenaNet makes their inevitable expansion box focused entirely on jumping puzzles. Then those of us who put in the effort will be rewarded and the true jumping puzzle experts will be recognized as the elite gamers they are!

    (Generic feature defense post, may not reflect my actual view on the subject.)

  4. kiantremayne December 24, 2014 / 12:48 pm

    Alas, I believe WOW actually has some jumping puzzles these days. If you don’t like them, it’s “go back to EVE Online” 😀

  5. bhagpuss December 24, 2014 / 2:25 pm

    “I hope that ArenaNet makes their inevitable expansion box focused entirely on jumping puzzles.”

    Save this. There’s a non-negligible chance it will turn out to be visionary.

    I don’t mind jumping puzzles that much (although my home-life would be a lot less stressful if they didn’t exist since Mrs Bhagpuss detests them) but I fail to see what they are doing in MMORPGs to begin with, something I could and would also say about FPS mechanics. Sadly I believe we can look forward to most, if not all, MMORPGs from major producers featuring both for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that all the world’s most successful MMORPGs feature neither.

  6. carson63000 December 24, 2014 / 5:34 pm

    Agree 1000%. And yes, WoW has added a couple of jumping puzzles in the WoD expansion. One of them even involves jumping onto a tree with leafy branches, to perfectly replicate that authentic GW2 “WTF my camera is totally out of control and you expect me to JUMP!?!?” feeling.

  7. Dolnor December 24, 2014 / 8:50 pm

    This is why I don’t play GW2. I didn’t mind using some jumping to find some datacrons because I do this when I am out…doing what I love in games….exploring. But when every event in GW2 requires mad jumping skills to advance, I just can’t do it…and it gives me another reason to stay away from the game. When systems in a game are causing me never-ending grief, they drive me away from playing.

    TQQdles™

  8. Shandren December 24, 2014 / 9:24 pm

    As a person who occasionally enjoys a good jumping puzzle/platformer, i cannot aggree with all of your points. Sometimes even the hellish no-safe-point “feature” has its merits :-). All in all i think a good (or even decent) jumping puzzle can be enjoyable. I actually enjoyed the gw2 christmas jumping puzzle (from …last? year…)

    However… Be that as it may, I aggree with you 100% that there is NO reason to stuff them into MMORPGs. I’m with Bagpuss here… WHY is it in my mmorpg? Even if I don’t much mind it, and sometimes might even enjoy it, I still really don’t see the reason to have them. If I want to platform, i can load up a game that does platforming well, rather than settle for a lousy copy made by developers whose expertise has nothing to do with platforming, and set in a place/situation where it ofttimes makes no sense for there to be a puzzle, thereby hampering immersion.

    As always mechanics/minigames that you dislike arent as bad when they are optional, but “optional” is a very debated thing in these achievement days, and in some situations the puzzles are strictly required to progress along an otherwise non-jumpingpuzzle path.

    It seems that MMORPGs have turned into games that needs to have everything, any kind of simple gameplay you can find… Just toss it in there as a minigame… in many cases they are getting closer to lobbies for minigames than virtual worlds (ok I may be overdramatizing at this point… But the trend seems real enough even if still far away).

    I don’t think however that jumping puzzles as such are any worse than many of the other minigames. It might however be one of the gametypes where the fact that the engine wasnt build for it shows the best (although go try the plants vs zombies clone near alterac mountains in wow and weep). I als think, though, that it is, if kept at a sane level, a type of play that makes a lot of sense for a 3D virtual world. Take the old jumps in WoW in wailing caverns and … “The-instance-in-darkshore-that-is-inside-a-grotto-but-that-I-currently-cant-recall the-name-of”. Annoying as they were with bad serverlag, etc. These jumps made sense to me. They reinforced the world as a world rather than break immersion by suddenly replacing my movement with a minigame

  9. Klepsacovic December 27, 2014 / 11:16 am

    The occasional jumping puzzle in wow is fine by me. The controls aren’t so bad and they tend not to be as momentum-based as what I saw in gw2. That said, keep them off to the side for treasure chests, not quests.

  10. lothirieth December 28, 2014 / 10:44 am

    “I’ve seen some people defend jumping puzzles as “fun” and “another type of gameplay,” and while they are dead wrong,”

    I do hope this is sarcasm and you’re not actually attempting to tell people that their opinions are wrong. As enjoyment/hate of jumping puzzles fall into the opinion category.

    I love them and I’m glad they’re being incorporated into MMOs. I’d never ask for something I don’t like to be taken out of a game just because I don’t like it. I just wouldn’t do said activity and leave it to the people who do like it.

  11. Zel December 29, 2014 / 9:42 am

    SWTOR jumping puzzles are the WORST because physics doesn’t apply AT ALL. Getting a running start isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. I had to un-train myself from common sense. One jump I could only do by standing stock still, jumping straight up, and THEN tapping forward in the air. THAT IS NOT THE WAY GRAVITY WORKS, BIOWARE!

    I was less annoyed with wildstar jumping because I felt that it was slightly easier to figure out where you were going to land, and usually you could fudge it with double jump. But then the rest of the game didn’t work out for me (exaggerated sigh, I loved the wildstar mechanics)

  12. Jürgen Erhard September 29, 2015 / 10:40 am

    One general thing with jumping in SWTOR (and it kinda applies to the Datacron puzzles too, which I hate as much as you do… Google brought me here :D) is how Force users cannot jump except (being the right class) to attack someone. Of course, having a Force Jump as a general skill would make those puzzles sometimes incredibly easy for Force users. Likewise for jetpack’d Bounty Hunters (why do they not have this? I mean, they are modelled after Bobba after all).

    I would love Datacrons… if they were actually about exploration. But they’re not, they are, with very rare (but similarly stupid) exceptions, jumping puzzles. “But Datacrons are about exploration”. Nope. I’ve done exploration in all MMOs I’ve played, and love the thrill of sneaking (w/o a sneak skill even, like in Anarchy Online for example) past way-too-high mobs. Datacrons are stupid gimmicks, not exploration.

    Though I’m not sure I’m *generally* against jumping puzzles, but I’m against them the way they’re implemented. And since it might not be possible (at this time at least) to do them *well* with the current technology, I may be against them in general… for now at least.

    But those in SWTOR… nope, I’m done with Datacrons. They can suck it. Good thing I’m not into end-game/raids (my highest is 37 atm).

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