How Terraria Makes You Feel Like A Master

How Terraria Makes You Feel Like A Master

Terraria is an incredibly interesting game,
it’s sold millions of copies, it’s still
getting updated to this day, and yet, it was
completely critically overshadowed by minecraft-
a magical game that came from space and with
no known developer, I think that’s a bit
of a shame because I love terraria to bits,
seriously, you could make a whole video about
it’s really cool boss design, or the great
build flexibility it offers you, but nope,
what I want to talk about is the really clever
way it makes you feel like a Master.
Mastering a game feels great, it’s a step
up from the quick rush of smashing a bosses
teeth in or advancing to the next progress
tier. The feeling of using your knowledge
of the game’s systems plus a little bit
of creativity to do something cool is really
hard to come by in any other medium.
Mastery takes many forms, it could be knowing
the best options to pick in order to counter
a metagame it could be knowing all the hacks,
glitches and skips for speedrunning, or it
could just be having the knowledge and skills
needed to get to the end of a game they all
feel awesome to pull off, and they’re all
evidence of mastery. The key though, is that
mastery isn’t really about just being good
at a game, it’s more of a process, a series
of discoveries and realisations by which you
develop a deep understanding of not just how
to beat a game, but how it works, ending with
that state of total and complete control we’re
all familiar with and can see here, I mean
I have no idea how any of this is happening.
This is where Terraria comes in. On top of
all of its other achivements, Terraria is
really good at creating this feeling of mastery
right from the outset, and I think we’ve
got a lot to learn from the way it encourages
and rewards thinking outside the box over
and over again throughout gameplay, rather
than just towards the end of the game.
This lesson is instilled very early on, the
first boss in the game, the eye of cuthulu,
absolutely annihilates most first time players.
It’s more maneuverable than you, will easily
win a straight up damage race and even transforms
halfway through the fight. After a humiliating
defeat, players often resolve to explore the
world and get better gear before coming back
again, and this is exactly the process terraria
wants you to go through.
Exploring into the underground and surface
level caches will usually give you a bunch
of shurikens, throwable weapons that aren’t
much use against regular enemies, but they
can really help to level the playing field
between you and the flying eye of cthulhu.
Shurikens can put some crucial distance between
you and the boss, hit it more than once if
it’s in the air, don’t cost mana which
is in short supply earlygame and will also
deal with his gross little eye babies in the
first phase of the fight- they’re pretty
much tailor made for fighting the eye, turning
an otherwise pretty crappy weapon into something
really useful. Your victory the second time
around feels great and figuring out this clever
tactic feels awesome, like you’ve conquered
a challenge not through rote memorisation
of it’s attacks, or just optimising your
gear but by outhinking it.
Similarly, the destroyer, which is summoned
by smashing open these orbs of corruption,
is super vulnerable to the vilethorn, a magic
spell only found by breaking shadow orbs,
which also summon the destroyer. Each of his
body segments counts as a separate enemy,
and so you can rack up bonkers damage with
the vilethorn’s area of effect attacks and
kill it in a matter of moments. Of course,
you can also build a boss arena, which will
just trivialise most early game battles, because
they put the maneuverability advantage in
your hands, letting you endlessly kite bosses
or just jump over their attacks.
All of these solutions almost feel like cheating,
but they aren’t.The game is actually ever
so subtly nudging you in the right direction,
allowing you to figure out these cool interactions
all by yourself and feel like you’re a total
genius for working it out, even though almost
everyone realises you can do stuff like dig
a massive hole and use a fall damage negating
item like the horseshoe to skip running through
cave systems and make a shortcut to hell.
If the game just told you how to beat the
eye, or that hellevators were a great idea,
you wouldn’t get the chance to work these
things out for yourself, and so wouldn’t
be able to enjoy the process of mastery.
Terraria’s core mechanics aren’t anything
particularly special, what is praiseworthy
is how it embraces and fosters this inventive
spirit by letting you sequence break and abuse
the game mechanics to your heart’s content.
I fought the queen bee way earlier than I
was supposed toby letting my NPC minions do
all the work of actually killing the thing.
Instead of bot letting me summon it until
I was ready, or punishing me for cheating,
I managed to get my hands on a cool sword
that summoned bees as a reward for clever
It’s perfectly understandable why developers
would choose to stop players from going to
certain areas, or lock off content until they’re
ready- even open worldy games need to have
some sort of difficulty curve and means of
progression, and restricting a player is a
great way to ensure they don’t get overwhelmed.
Games with a narrative focus too need to make
sure that players experience the story in
a way that makes sense. After all, there’s
no point starting Bioshock with the shocking
reveal that Andrew Ryan doesn’t like golf
very much, now is there. But for games that
can afford to let players off the leash, giving
them an opportunity to skip ahead and try
out things they might not be ready for is
a great way to create some organic mastery,
so long as there’s at least some guidance
there in case they need it.
This is the takeaway from terraria I think
is most important, The feelong of mastering
a game is a defining experience of the medium
but most people can’t spare the hundreds
of hours it takes to even begin mastering
games as complex as say, Dwarf Fortress without
help. It’s the responsibility of the designer
to make understanding and mastering their
game as easy as possible, without spoiling
the fun of figuring out how all the pieces
fit together.
For example, in Snakeybus… which is a game
like snake… except… with a bus, most of
the early levels are pretty much flat, but
the museum level has a massive degree of verticality,
and is cleverly designed to let players experiment
with the intricacies of the wacky flight mechanics,
for example how only the front carriage is
affected by gravity, or how the hitbox for
dropoff points stretches pretty far into the
air. This knowledge lets you go back to earlier
levels like paris, and rack up wayy higher
scores as you zoom around the stratosphere,
and then drive safely to your next stop through
tunnels made by your previous route. This
is a totally organic bit of player innovation,
that’s also almost certainly intended by
the designer and it not only leads to a few
great aha! Moments, but also a more educated
player, it’s a win-win scenario that never
could’ve happened if I was told about these
tricks to start with
But it’s not enough to just give the player
a single taste of mastery, you’ve got to
keep giving them opportunities to learn and
test their knowledge, uncovering more depth
as the do so. Renowned explorers, a really
fun light strategy exploration game from a
few years back has some great storytelling
and world design, but squanders the potential
of its combat. Combat is based around manipulating
your opponent’s emotions or talking them
out of fighting- and the theme totally works,
getting grips with making an opponent angry
so my physical attacks do more damage was
really fun, until I realised… that was about
it. Before long, I was resolving every fight
across multiple playthrough in pretty much
the same way, with nothing new to discover
about how it all worked. As much as I loved
the rest of the game, I ended up dreading
the combat, as I’d figured out all its mechanical
mysteries long before I’d seen all the real
ones the game had to other, souring the experience.
The trick then, is to keep giving the player
chances to improve their mastery in small
but significant ways, avoiding knowledge dead
ends and if possible, helping players to learn
things that can apply in more than one place,
mastery is a completeness of understanding,
it’s just comprised of many small steps.
Heaven’s vault is a puzzle game that sees
the archeologist Myari and her robot sidekick
Six uncovering the secrets of an ancient empire
that existed thousands of years in the past,
whilst also uncovering a mystery in the present
day but the whole thing is in the future,
it’s a bit confusing. The game’s main
mechanic is these translation puzzles, you’ve
got to use your gradually expanding lexicon
of words, context and plain old guesswork
to gradually piece together what happened
to a variety of abandoned archaeological sites.
Heaven’s vault is a daunting game, it’s
got some pretty in depth lore, lots of characters
and a big mystery story playing out over thousands
of years on multiple planets, keeping track
of it all is hard work, and that’s kind
of the point.
A basic early game puzzle is the inscription
on this figurine found in a ruined temple
to the ancient space emperor. We could notice
that the statue looks like the water goddess
from earlier in the game and work it out from
there. We can see that this little word at
the end looks like a plant so it could mean
plant, we might know that this word looks
a little like the word for holy, so it could
mean bless or we could realise that this shrine
was found right next to a dried up river gully,
letting us work out the inscription from context.
Heaven’s vault is pretty tricky, but because
it gives you so many different ways to solve
hundreds of micro puzzles, you you have ample
opportunities to master the game in a way
that makes sense to you, even if you don’t
know the word for star or have forgotten when
the empire fell, or have gotten the name of
the main character wrong about a minute ago,
she’s actually called Aliya, but that doesn’t
really matter, and heaven’s vault knows
it, to master a game, what’s important understanding
concepts, not learning every bit of information.
So, to recap. Mastery is the process by which
we don’t just get better at a game, we understand
it in a way that’s really satisfying to
explore. Designers can’t force mastery onto
a player, it’s something they have to find
for themselves and gradually build up over
the course of many smaller discoveries and
little moments of creativity- Terraria- as
well as some other.. Less important games,
execute on this idea excellently, by giving
players loads of room to experiment, but subtly
pointing them in the direction of some cool
mastery milestones.
But there’s one more thing I’d like to
talk about in regards to making players feel
like masters, and that’s the need for some
sort of incentive. If a game is too easy,
or offers no reward for learning and experimenting
with the mechanics, then 99% of players…
they’re just not going to bother, to avoid
this, players need to be given a reason to
explore the mechanics and master at the game.
Toki Tori 2, a brilliant metroidvania/puzzle
game is unique in of the fact that you don’t
gain any mechanical upgrades at all over the
course of the game, there’s no cute bird-sized
vairia suit, no missiles to break down rocks,
nothing. All the keys to unlocking more of
the world exist in the form of mastery, by
learning how your stomp and chirp moves can
manipulate the wildlife of toki tori island.
The game teaches you very early on that birds
like to pick stuff up and take it back to
their nest, but if you’re clever in this
waterfall area, you can distract all the birds
with frogs and make it down to a cave level
you weren’t supposed to access until much
later filled with bats, fireflies, masks,
chirpy doors, running water and firefly cages,
none of which you’ve been taught about so
far, it’s completely overwhelming. And yet,
this puzzle is totally solvable if you come
back later, armed with the knowledge of how
to deal with bats and masks, as well how as
open these doors allowing you to move on to
bigger and better things! This previously
insurmountable obstacle gave you a reason
to pay attention when its elements were introduced
for real, and that level of prior investment
means it feels even better to go back and
show those bats who’s boss.
Players need a reason to master things, as
fun as the process is, we’re not going to
do it without a kick in the backside to get
us going, and Terraria knows this better than
anyone- after defeating what you think is
the final boss, the wall of flesh- hardmode
gets activated. Suddenly, all your movement
tricks, all your gear, and everything you’ve
learned up until this point gets pretty much
totally thrown out of the window, and now
you’ve got to learn a whole new set of tricks
to deal with the virulent spread of the corruption
or crimson, much tougher enemies, whole new
biomes and bosses that have learned some new
tricks. Right when you thought you had nothing
left to learn, Terraria flips the script,
giving you, in effect, a whole new world’s
worth of mastery to attain.
Mastery is a difficult concept to pind own,
because it’s different for every game and
for every player, so instead of just following
exactly what the game or someone else tells
you to do, you should feel free to experiment
with what you’ve been given, because chances
are you’ll have way more fun, and you might
even discover that’s what you were supposed
to do the whole time.
To quote master of martial arts, singing and
acting jackie chan, “I’m not sure if it is
good to have freedom or not,” oh no Jackie
don’t say that!
Hello and thanks for watching!
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100 thoughts on “How Terraria Makes You Feel Like A Master”

  1. Want to follow someone other than the increasingly irritating army of dumb fast food brand accounts? Try here!
    Want to keep up to date on precisely why the next video is late? Go here!

  2. I just came back to terraria with a new world and 20 hours in, rod of discord dropped and I wasn’t even farming for it. THIS IS WHY TERRARIA BEATS MINECRAFT. ( at least in my opinion)

  3. Getting tons of crates to open in hardmode so that I don't have to go mine, especially break altars I don't wanna spread the crimson/corrupt in my world so I just stay with crates(it works like charm, so useful)

  4. When I first fought the eye of cthulu I thought it was going to be really hard so I got metor armor and a space gun and I killed it in like 10 seconds

  5. I'm currently playing. Currently as in yesterday and today too. Epic Battle Fantasy 2
    It ticks a lot of these same boxes. Atleast on the hardest difficulty. It's really unforgiving and puts you a lot back if you fail to defeat a boss, or a normal enemy. And that's not just to make it harder. You may need another sword equipped, you may need to pick another upgrade than you did. But most importantly you need to know the specifics on how to defeat that certain boss, and the smaller enemies that come with it.

  6. I'm not sure who you are, but you called the guy who made minecraft an idiot. Isn't he a billionaire now? Yeah. Keep watching your BBC propaganda.

  7. I remember when I made a planters arena. Its litterly just two teleporters 25 blocks on either side of a planters bulb. just shot him tell he got close then teleport to the other side. I felt like a genius because it took 5 minutes but worked better than hour and a half arenas.

  8. Anyone else see the qanon bit at the beginning? I believe its legit, u should check it out. Lots of good info the MSM wont tell you

  9. You shouldn’t use overhaul footage because someone may buy the game because of this video and think the game will be like that even though overhaul is a mod and that might be disappointed. Anyway, great video!

  10. I agree, because I found the invinceability glitch and defeated duke fisheron which it’s weapons help a lot throughout hard mode.

  11. Is it bad i was able to destroy the eye of Cthulhu on my first try bc i layed off killing him until i had the right gear

  12. Its true like first we tried to beat moon lord with my brother and we died so second time we tried it with the nurse and we beat him

  13. I "grew up" playing terraria over minecraft as I much perfered the games style and I'm now sad as the game is no longer getting updates but this video popped up in my recommended and sent me on a nostalgia trip as I loaded the game back up on my 360. I had a ton of fun thank you for making this video and reminding me of good times.

  14. I remember seeing this video in my feed back when it was released and being completely clueless about what this game is. So didn't watched this video.

    But after I recently saw PewDiePie's Playthrough of it. I really liked it and gave it a try and now this is One of My Fav Videos.

  15. Heavens vault is very similar to Sorcery!, a game made by the same developers. Not so much as plot and mechanics but in how you learn mastery. The world of sorcery is very confusing and people acting the way they do is very odd but as the game goes on and you try and try and try again you get extremely familiar with every facet of the world through necessity rather than it being an optional thing. You learn early on a tiny sprite creature called a “minimite” cancels out magic, which is your main way of dealing with problems, and you can use this same information in the final chapter of the game to defeat a seemingly impossibly powerful evil. By setting up rules of its universe that cannot be broken and you’re slowly introduced to it makes Sorcery! a truly unforgettable world and experience because you end up knowing everything as you go rather than reading a wiki

  16. The title should be: 'What mastering a game means, and how this is applied to certain games. And there's something about terraria'

  17. While it may not be the most popular game, that means there are less kids who screech over in game micro transactions. The community is an A1 example of happiness. Minecraft is like a big city community where everyone only knows the most famous person in the city and terraria is a small town wholesome community where everyone is nice to each other. Terraria has shaped my life and part of my childhood. It makes me happy to see how much more successful it is now than in 2012

  18. Well that didn't take a whole 13 seconds before someone had to get needlessly political, huh? Breaking Youtube records out here.

  19. "Still getting updated to this day." U sure about that? Also ur all just bad, like why use the nurse, WHEN U GOT AN INVINCABILITY GLITCH.

  20. I bet most people's strategies for beating most of the bosses involved teleoporting to the nurse and doing quick heals.

  21. Great video, exactly the reason why the community loves the game.

    Terraria, after a bit of playing however, has become the easiest game. I would say I have ACTUALLY "mastered" the game in terms of full completion. I've basically beat the game in every way poss. I fully agree with the cheese aspect; the easiest strats are practically cheating, being able to get it done in less than a 3-4 in game hours for a casual player. It really is the knowledge and some mechanical skill. Terraria is the ultimate example of knowledge leading to success (with a degree of skill).

    For example, you could fiddle around with literally the WHOLE of pre-hardmode, or you could go straight to a pond, fish up a reaver shark and get hellstone to reach the end of pre-hardmode instantly, stopping for the worm scarf (if corruption).

    And I would also say that you should definitely play the game blind; it's overwhelming, but more rewarding.

  22. The game has a pretty solid progression system, and it allows for you to be creative in how to solve problems. You can beat everything in the game with "cheap" tactics, but they are all doable within the game itself with zero cheating, so you feel very smart when you do it, especially if you came up with it yourself, and didn't just use a guide.

  23. Why were you playing with the mod Overhaul? If it was your first time why would you do that? I'm not trying to attack you I'm just wondering

  24. RLcraft, a mod for minecraft, also really helps with making you feel like a master. You start out as weak and vulnerable, but through progression and leveling, you go from fearing those dragons, to those dragons fearing you

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