Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

1 July, 2011

Fun vs. efficiency
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:49 PM

A few blog posts caught my attention recently that summed something I new on an intuitive basis: that there’s a conflict between fun and efficiency. It’s something that seems obvious after you think about it, but perhaps not immediately obvious to players or designers. So, let’s take a look at this a bit more and see how these two elements interact.

It’s not that fun

Nils recently wrote a post where he pointed out an older post he made called “The Fun Fallicy”. The argument made is that the old saw “if someone skips something in a game, it’s not fun” is not really true. In general, this argument usually gets reduced to extremes: repetitive activity degrades into a “grind” vs. the “I Win” button that everyone claims they wouldn’t press but actually would and therefore get bored. (I would, once, to see what happened. Then I’d probably get bored.) Nils points out that “circumstances matter” in what we find fun. He points out that once you remove an element that people might willingly want to skip, it becomes the default to skip that. The example used is the LFD tool in WoW: people skip all the tedium of finding other players and actually traveling to a dungeon entrance, but that doesn’t mean these activities don’t have some element of fun in them: socialization, exploration, etc.

The first few comments also point out the fallacy of “nothing stopping you” from doing something that as been previously removed. One could still travel to a dungeon, but a group would likely kick you out if you tried to do exactly that.

The path more traveled

Syl over at Raging Monkeys wrote a post recently about Placeholders for real things – shortcuts to nowhere, dealing with a similar issue. The post argues that shortcuts seem like more fun, but ultimately take away part of the entertainment. There are a few scenarios presented in the post, showing that the more arduous and/or less efficient activity can provide a lot more adventure.

I pointed out that shortcuts aren’t all bad in a comment: “The trick is that a shortcut is fun if the player finds it. Being pointed at the shortcut with a group of people already running down that path and the ‘road less traveled by’ stays that way.”

The question of efficiency

Really, what it comes down to is efficiency. The focus of the Achiever motivation is to achieve; it’s kinda in the name. But, that comes with an interesting contradiction: achievers prefer to advance as fast as possible, but if they do reach “the end” then they’ll grow bored. So, a good game balances between allowing the Achiever to gain power on a regular basis without them getting all possible power. The focus by the Achievers to be efficient requires developers to introduce some counter to that efficiency. The least popular are roadblocks keeping people from advancing, while the more popular and more expensive option is to keep adding more stuff (“content”) to achieve.

The point is that achievers love efficiency, even if it ultimately leads to an end that isn’t very much fun. Of course, you could say the same thing about Explorers: once you figure out how everything works, you’re likely to be bored and want to move on. But, this is a key: because it means that efficiency and fun are at odds for a typical MMO player. (Although Explorers are probably better able to find ways to keep themselves entertained than Achievers in current MMOs.)

The result is that, in general, if there’s an option between having fun and being efficient then many people will choose the more efficient option. And then complain that the fun was taken out of the game. Further, people once efficiency is introduced, players are loathe to not use that efficiency. It feels more wrong to do something inefficient, even if it’s demonstrably less fun to be efficient. A common example is mounts: once one of your characters gets a mount, you have a hard time walking around without it. It can be especially painful to go walking around on an alt character after you’re used to the speed of being on a mount. This applies to a lot of other efficiencies, like teleporting around, run speed buffs, etc.

This becomes more complex as you also have other people in the MMO. As the comments on Nils’ post indicated, people who use the most efficient path expect others to do the same. Not using the most efficient path (or worse, purposely choosing to avoid the most efficient path) can be frustrating to others who are relying and/or waiting on you. This explains another issue: people not reading quest text. Even if the game has witty and interesting quest text, if you’re reading all the text and slowing everyone else down, you’re more likely to skip the text just to keep up. This is especially true if the others have previously read the text, such as them racing through the content to help your character. You can’t just do the inefficient thing with others waiting as you create problems with your social interactions then.

It’s already been theorized

This also fits within Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun. Efficiency is a pattern to recognize and master, and if people get to good at it, then they no longer find it fun. Looking at it from this perspective, what developers do when they put in shortcuts is give a quick jolt of “fun” to players as they suddenly feel like they’ve mastered part of the pattern, but it creates harm in the long term when the players become too efficient and loathe to give up their efficiencies to try to recapture elements of fun. They’ve matched the pattern the designers set up and don’t want to go back!

Playing the developers

One other interesting thing to consider is what players are willing to do to achieve efficiency. I noticed while running Meridian 59 that some people tried to use the administrators as weapons against their enemies: by reporting cheating (sometimes spuriously), trying to befriend the admins to get rewards, or even trying to manipulate things (like the timing of admin-run events) to get an advantage. Every time I did something in the game, I usually took extra steps to try to figure out how it could affect the balance of power. Of course, people still accused me of making changes to favor their enemies, probably in a attempt to get me to change things to favor them instead.

It seems that some players see gaming the administrators as a legitimate way to get efficiency in PvE games as well. Agitating for a change, particularly a buff to one’s own class, seems to be a legitimate way to gain more efficiency. The continual cries for buffs and improvements could be seen as the players recognizing that the best way to solve the pattern is to get the people who implemented the pattern to change it. A designer needs to figure out if calls for a way to instantly form a party to play a dungeon are motivated by a desire to play dungeons more, or from a desire to run dungeons easier because that’s the most efficient way to advance and instantly forming a group makes things that much more efficient.

What’s the best design?

So, what does this mean to an MMO designer? Ultimately, I think the best game is one that has a good rate of progression that isn’t too fast. Then, intentionally design in “shortcuts” for players to find. Nothing too obvious, but something where the player feels clever for finding it or figuring out a trick. Keep an eye on parts that players find frustrating and make the shortcuts in those areas a bit more obvious. Be careful introducing shortcuts that remove too much of the game, however, like WoW’s LFD tool; once you add something that significant, it become difficult if not impossible to remove it and go back to the way things were. Keep in mind that changes to the game might have other effects, such as changing social dynamics and

Once people master the pattern, you can’t take away their trick and expect them to go back to the old way of dealing with the pattern.

What do you think? Do you find yourself favoring efficiency over fun? Do you feel pressured by others to do so?







17 Comments »

  1. I favor efficiency if I’m in a rush. I favor exploration (fun for me) if I have time. It varies, but I very rarely care about how other players are playing. It’s almost always about what I want out of my *time*.

    …and yes, sometimes that’s just stopping and smelling the roses, or taking that “road not taken”.

    So in the end, I’d like game designers to design in ways to be efficient, and things to do when I’m actively avoiding efficiency.

    Comment by Tesh — 1 July, 2011 @ 10:55 PM

  2. I tend to be a masochist. Say that I can 95% of a project done in an hour, but need 4 hours to finish the last 5% – I will compulsively work and work and work until I’m finished. Same thing is true in gaming. I hate roadblocks. They exist to be overrun, no matter what the cost of fun, or efficiency.

    That being said – I tend to loathe shortcuts, but MMOs today tend to be full of them. Look at Rift: no need to worry about builds with the soul system; practically free, instantaneous transportation; a quest system that basically feels like “autoquesting”; on-demand PvP with battlegrounds; and so on. Any “pain” that the game might inflict on the player, in an effort to make them better at the game, or to give a sense of “earning” accomplishments – gone. Instead, you’re showered with achievement unlocks on a regular basis for just existing in their game-space.

    Shortcuts? Why bother even thinking about them. Everything is on-demand, anyway.

    Comment by epic.Ben — 2 July, 2011 @ 6:36 AM

  3. Historically, I’ve been a rush gamer. I’d find the most efficient paths for leveling and gold farming and I’d burn through the content. My end-game usually consisted of gold farming, crafting, and PvP. I always felt the need to rush to max level in order to stay with the curve of other PvPers, especially in systems that awarded PvP levels/rankings.

    I was always tossed between enjoying all the wonderful content in a new game and keeping up with the first rush of PvPers. Keeping up with the rush always won out. After some reflection, and years of bad decisions, I finally decided that my style wasn’t helping me enjoy the games as much as I should have. I was getting burned out or bored far too quickly.

    While I’m in an MMO break atm, I’m planning on playing one or all of the up-and-coming big name games (GW2, SWTOR, ArcheAge, Secret World) and will most definitely slow down and enjoy the scenery.

    Comment by Adam — 2 July, 2011 @ 9:15 AM

  4. I’m in favor of efficient fun. What I dislike are Obvious Time Sinks, where the design’s intent to hamper my progress peeks through the curtain separating the virtual world from reality. For example, I noticed in the early levels of City of Heroes (circa 2005), when you don’t have a movement power, that your contact gave you mission locations that were always on the other side of the freakin’ zone or in a completely different zone altogether. I got the intent: teach the player how to move through hostile areas, have them explore different locales and… dump a lot of time in the game simply jogging around. I suspect the same thing happens in other games I played: WoW, EQ2, etc. For some reason the pattern just stuck out in City of Heroes.

    Another example of forced inefficiency was Runes of Magic. Lots of games make you play the inventory game, giving you items that fill up storage, useless to you now but worth coin later. Generally I don’t notice it as a game mechanic, but in Runes of Magic the sheer amount of crap you picked up was daunting. Since you could pay real money to ‘rent’ more inventory space, the intent was clear: encourage people to pay money so the gameplay would be more efficient.

    I like your approach — have an obvious route of play with ‘discoverable’ shortcuts within. If those shortcuts encourage team play, so much the better.

    Comment by Sok — 3 July, 2011 @ 9:16 AM

  5. The Daily Quest: Tiers of disappointment

    [...] Psychochild’s Blog discusses the odd conflicts between designing fun and efficiency.[...]

    Pingback by WoW Insider — 6 July, 2011 @ 3:46 PM

  6. I prefer fun, always. But at max.level, in WoW & I suspect other games, there is always a subtle pressure to grind for better gear in order not to feel ‘left behind’. There are players for whom this becomes almost a second job, with all the stress that entails. The shortcuts implemented by Blizzard, in the form of the LFD function have, I agree, affected the social dynamics of the game, and that damage cannot now be undone. New players find plenty of fun in the game – it seems much less apparent among max. level players, and that, I feel, will contribute to the slow decline of the game as more alternatives arrive.

    Comment by Susan Reed — 6 July, 2011 @ 3:48 PM

  7. Being a noob at MMO (WoW is my first and I’ve been in it for about 20 months now) I guess my view is limited.
    The reason why I have liked single person games such as Diablo I and Diablo II (or if we go all the way back – Zelda [Rest In Pieces ...]) is that you can set your own pace and really explore your unique universe.
    The moment that universe is shared with other people the equation changes drastically.
    In the short time I have been playing WoW I noticed that people are rushing for the shortcuts.
    I’ll use as an example leveling an alt on same server as mains.
    My impression is that people are using shortcuts not because they are “tired of the same content” but because they want to gloat over how fast they have leveled that alt.
    I have been leveling alts with no BoA items to make progress faster or easier, so I guess I have been a bit slower than them, but I have enjoyed the leveling experience all over again.
    After Cata came out it is NOT the same old leveling – major things have changed and leveling now is so streamlined that it is almost too fast (you cab outgrow a zone before you are done with all quests).
    The new story lines are interesting AND have a lot of background and lore behind them. Yet I see people rushing to finish them in the name of efficiency.
    I guess people need to decide if what they are trying to do is “beat the game” (I win, party over) or experience it. You cannot really have both.
    I am not a masochist – I like mounts and I use LFD when I want to group.
    Being relatively new I am also not crying about “old times”.
    My observation is that the speed caused an erosion in the human aspect.
    For example – LFD (with its anonymity) allows SOME people (NOT ALL) to behave in a manner that I find unacceptable. Kinda like the (revised here) old baseball cap with the saying “instant a$$hole – just add LFD”.
    Grinding for the sake of grinding is no fun for anybody.
    Creating new content every few months is not feasible.
    To me that means that creating TOO many shortcuts sacrifices at least some of the developed content and gets nothing in return.
    For the developer it is a big challenge, since people say one thing about what they want but behave otherwise.

    Another question to consider is what is the climax of the game – the “end game”.
    For raiders anything before raiding is immaterial and a waste of time.
    This is not the only option though, and “hard core” raiders are the minority of players (granted – they are the ones who got WoW to where it now is …).
    For AH players making gold is the ultimate goal and leveling is a tool to get there (and the more alts with professions you have the more “weapons” you have).
    For PvP players dungeons are immaterial and unneccessary but arena and battlegrounds (in WoW terminology) are a must.
    The question for designers is who they create the game for, and it is not a simple question to answer.
    New content should only be created with a clear picture in mind of what you’re trying to accomplish or it’s going to miss the mark for a lot of people.

    OK, rant over …
    Thanks for the platform.

    Comment by zEagleEye — 6 July, 2011 @ 3:56 PM

  8. The way I see it:

    - I see shortcuts that avoid things that were never intended to be challenging by themselves as always positive. I don’t want to spend my time in boring, non-challenging things; I want to be actually playing the fun part of the game. If, by doing this, I actually “finish” a game early, I don’t see any problem; I just move for the next game, knowing that I had a greater time out of the first game than I would have had by artificially extending it’s play time. In this light, I’m always in favor of changes that reduce non-interactive (as in, no chance to be attacked) travel time, remove forced and non-challenging grind, etc.

    - Conversely, if a game has too many unfun moments (for example, unchallenging and boring gameplay due to highly repetitive grind, too long travel time, etc) in the way to the fun part, I will more often than not just leave, even if the game promises great fun just after the boring part; my benchmark is that if I end up picking my DS in the middle of playing an MMO, I most likely will delete it from my computer before a week passes. There are enough games for me to choose that I’m not willing to cope up with unfun gameplay.

    - Shortcuts – or, perhaps, alternate paths, by making them roughly as challenging as the original path – can be needed, since different players often have different likes and dislikes. Some players might find the original barrier disproportionately punishing (as a silly example, an arachnophobic player in a quest that takes him through a cave full of spiders), but be willing to do something else as challenging, or even more challenging, than the original barrier (going instead through a forest full of ravenous bears).
    This, to a degree, applies to me; I really dislike trying to find players through the chat channel to form groups, and would often give up after less than 5 minutes, so the LFD introduction in WoW basically increased my instance running, from perhaps a single instance per week, to 3-6 per week day, and as many as a dozen per weekend day (until Cataclysm, at least, when I stopped doing dungeon runs altogether).

    - Shortcuts through content can also be in order if the player has already beaten it once. Some times specific parts of the game have little to no replay value, and the developers recognize it; by providing a shortcut around those parts for the second play through onwards, the game preserves more replay value for the remaining parts.

    - I sincerely think it proper etiquette to be as efficient in a group setting as you can be, unless there is some previous, express understanding to the contrary. I WILL kick someone who takes the hardest route just out of a desire for personal challenge without getting the consent of the group first, knowing it will hamper or endanger the group (though, if asked first to try the harder route, I will most likely consent).

    Comment by Fabio Capela — 6 July, 2011 @ 5:47 PM

  9. “Ultimately, I think the best game is one that has a good rate of progression that isn’t too fast. Then, intentionally design in “shortcuts” for players to find.”

    Maybe. I’m no expert but IMO shortcuts should be designed into the content from the beginning. Putting in shortcuts after the release is no good!

    One of the problems I see is that sometimes when an update or new content is not “fun” for example, if hordes of people stay away from new content that is way too difficult for the average player. Then the developer fixes it using shortcuts or by lowering the difficulty level, which totally makes the most hardcore players rage or quit.

    Imagine working hard to master all that difficult content just to have the game devs make it easy for noobs to do!

    Comment by Mira from MMO Worlds — 13 July, 2011 @ 8:07 AM

  10. I thought I’d add that for me ignoring shortcuts depends on how much fun you achieve by doing it the “long way”. For instance in DDO wilderness areas, you might choose to run back to the entrance vs. recall because you can increase your kill count, find things toward rare/explore completion, and get loot from rares. In WoW I might run somewhere vs. fly/boat if I want to gather resources along the way. I only beta’d Rift for a week, but I can imagine running somewhere to find collectables, find the puzzles and chests, and to increase the chance of encountering a Rift. But you have to make the reward good enough. In LotRO I avoid travel through Moria even though there are good collectables to be found because there are too many mobs and because of the enclosed halls: you are forced to fight for every yard you travel & nowhere to run if you get overwhelmed.

    Not related to efficiency, but another MMO issue was regarding xp. People talk about how to show character progression and the reason most MMOs have so many killing quests (or questless MMOs have the kill grinds) is that is the mechanic (xp from killing) to show character progression. I wonder if any MMO has experimented with giving xp just for being in the world? Obviously not simply for being online. And maybe it would be pretty complex to test whether the character is actually doing anything that required user input (which might be chatting, crafting, exploring, OR fighting) vs. set on autorun in a corner.

    Comment by Djinn — 1 August, 2011 @ 12:42 PM

  11. Where are these people who would be unhappy with pressing an iwin button?

    Well, apart from finishing the game in less than one day, with a paid in advance months sub still unused? Which would be an issue with the subscription system?

    I mean, your argument seems to rest on these people being really, really unhappy and we can’t have that. So where are these people?

    Or are you actually talking about a bunch of people who have played for ages and collected a bunch of digital junk – and an iwin button would make it too obvious that this doesn’t add up to anything climactic, in the end?

    Comment by Callan S. — 28 August, 2011 @ 12:30 AM

  12. Er, the “I Win” button was an example of how “fun” arguments get reduced to an extreme, not a position I was taking. And, the argument isn’t that people would be unhappy, but that they would be bored (which, admittedly, could lead to them being unhappy). As a game designer, at least I’d be happy if the players of my games were not bored.

    If you’re looking for a more egghead explanation of this, consider Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun: pushing the “I Win” button doesn’t let you learn anything (as most people know how to push a button), so it’s ultimately not fun. However, as I point out, people always try to optimize and therefore would see an “I Win” button as the ultimate optimization, even if it ultimately leads to boredom. And that’s ultimately what I’m writing about: a game designer offering shortcuts (even if it’s not something as extreme as the “I Win” button) leads to this trap where people will pursue optimization at the expense of fun. Telling someone to just avoid the optimization is not realistic for how people play our games, particularly in a multi-player environment.

    (Edited to put in a forgotten word, as Callan S. pointed out below.)

    Comment by Psychochild — 28 August, 2011 @ 2:25 PM

  13. Well, you seem to take that position in all but actually claiming it “The result is that, in general, if there’s an option between having fun and being efficient then many people will choose the more efficient option. And then complain that the fun was taken out of the game.”. You might say “No no!”, but someone who does take that extreme would say the same thing as the quote. You can understand why a differentiation is hard to draw.

    “As a game designer, at least I’d be happy if the players of my games were bored.”

    I’d dispute that, but my point is, where are these bored players?

    “And that’s ultimately what I’m writing about: a game designer offering shortcuts (even if it’s not something as extreme as the “I Win” button) leads to this trap where people will pursue optimization at the expense of fun.”

    Assuming at the expense of fun leads to boredom, where are these players? Nils is an example? Misses riding to the dungeon? And now he’s actually bored while doing the dungeon because of it?

    I think with so many question marks posted by me, this will scatter all over the place. So I’ll talk about designing a browser game, recently. I, in both deliberately and habitiually repeating the designs of games I’d played in the past, I was writing up the code that would require, essentially, playing for X amount of time/doing X amount of something. And I thought, why am I setting that up for myself (I’ll be playing my own game, of course)? When it was a game set up by someone else, that’s kind of rough teritory to get over. But why then inflict this on myself – just making myself wait around for X amount of time, essentially? What? Because I’ll be bored if I’m not bored?

    Ultimately I realised what would be actually fun is if on the very first moment of play, I had a small chance of winning straight off. And if I loose, I can try again, having moved a little closer to winning by statistical accumulation (inflicting damage) and also having another chance of instantly winning it.

    As I’ve read you, you get to the point of “Why am I inflicting this on myself” and you come up with “But players will be bored if I cut out this travel stuff and other inconveniences!”. So, where are these bored players?

    Comment by Callan S. — 28 August, 2011 @ 5:05 PM

  14. Callan S. wrote:

    I’d dispute that

    I meant to say I’d be happy if the players were NOT bored. See my most recent post about being busy. :P Edited the commment it to reflect that.

    where are these bored players?

    Don’t ask me, ask Blizzard. No, it’s not just boredom from the extra shortcuts put into the game, but I think that’s definitely part of it. I mean, you have people complaining about outleveling quests in the latest expansion. But, the solutions that Tobold suggests, such as paying to stop xp gain to keep the quests at an appropriate level, seem nonsensical.

    So I’ll talk about designing a browser game, recently. I, in both deliberately and habitiually repeating the designs of games I’d played in the past, I was writing up the code that would require, essentially, playing for X amount of time/doing X amount of something.

    Note that this is quite a bit different than the examples I talked about in the post. I’m talking about shortcuts like letting you teleport to the instance instead of having to travel across land. This optimization eliminates some of the gameplay that could allow people some enjoyment.

    The browser game “wait X time” mechanic is quite a bit different, as its intended to get people to keep visiting the game on a regular basis. It’s also intended to keep the experienced player from outdistancing new players too much, as a new player can get a fair amount of power in a short amount of time. (This mechanic also encourages the sales of items, of course, to speed up the process.) The design goals are different.

    But, let’s say you keep the design from a browser game but simply eliminate the “Wait X time” mechanic. So, a player can build as fast as they click. Is this fun? Perhaps it will feel so initially, especially for a player that has grown weary of the “Wait X time” mechanic. But, what happens when they reach the max level in everything? Then they are bored because they’ve explored the extent of your game.

    Your mechanic for an increasing chance to win isn’t quite the same as the “I Win” button example, either. “I Win” means that by performing a relatively easy to do action, you will conquer an element 100% of the time. The “I Win” button lets you build structures as fast as you can click. Your proposal is more like having a small chance that a structure is built automatically instead of having to wait X time. And, yes, this is more fun because it combines a random reward schedule (demonstrated repeatedly to be compelling to humans) with a cumulative success model (where persistence pays off). Given how psychology intersects with game design, that should prove to be a very compelling mechanic.

    Hope that clarifies a bit?

    Comment by Psychochild — 28 August, 2011 @ 6:03 PM

  15. I meant to say I’d be happy if the players were NOT bored.
    Fair enough.

    Don’t ask me, ask Blizzard.

    This…is a different kettle of fish…which contains another smaller kettle of fish inside of it.

    I’ll put forward a tin foil hat hypothesis – blizzard, rather than trying to make the game not boring, aren’t doing that. What they are doing are putting all the effort into never letting players come to realise it is boring. They take a players initial goodwill that this will be fun and then they keep spinning that along, making sure the player never sees enough to conclude anything other than his initial goodwill assumption. I mean, the whole ‘endless game’ assists in that – you never finish the game, thus you never see the whole thing. Thus you can never judge the whole thing. You may have noticed blogs posts where people insist “You only played the game for X time, you can’t judge it!”. But how much is the right amount? A complete playthrough comes to mind, but, endless game makes that judgement impossible, doesn’t it?

    Now a more down to earth hypothesis – your guessing blizzards intent. I think, given the amounts of money involved, they don’t care about players being bored, in itself. Hell, even parents don’t care about their children being bored, just for it’s own sake.

    Note that this is quite a bit different than the examples I talked about in the post. I’m talking about shortcuts like letting you teleport to the instance instead of having to travel across land. This optimization eliminates some of the gameplay that could allow people some enjoyment.
    Nope, it’s what I talked about. You will spend five minutes traveling. If I were to code a game that did that, why am I inflicting a five minute wait on myself? Whether I make it take five minutes to whittle down the monster, or five minutes to get to the monster, why am I coding that in?

    If it were a five minute loading screen, you’d be driven nuts. Yet that’s exactly what it is.

    And it’s not gameplay – there is no uncertain outcome to it. Or if you want to call it gameplay, then it’s one definition of ‘gameplay’ that contains no uncertainty as to the outcome. Five minutes, each time. Personally I’d call that themepark play, not gameplay. If you’ve ever read the GNS theory at the forge RPG design site, perhaps your describing an agenda clash between themepark play and play to win (gamist) play? That they really just aren’t compatable. Just to note it, I have nothing against a computer program that generates a themepark – I might even dabble in it every so often myself. So I’m not putting anything down by making such a distinction between themepark play (toy play? I think the sim city designer refered to ‘toy play’ once, didn’t he?) and play to win activities.

    But, let’s say you keep the design from a browser game but simply eliminate the “Wait X time” mechanic. So, a player can build as fast as they click. Is this fun? Perhaps it will feel so initially, especially for a player that has grown weary of the “Wait X time” mechanic. But, what happens when they reach the max level in everything? Then they are bored because they’ve explored the extent of your game.

    And this furthers my themepark hypothesis.

    I’ve beaten many single player games in my time, and I feel really good at the end. Not bored – satisfied!

    While a themepark player gets there and to him, he’s just run out of themepark. There’s nothing satisfying about that!

    Well, I’m seeing a different agenda of play. Or more to the point, different and not all that compatable desires between the two.

    Your mechanic for an increasing chance to win isn’t quite the same as the “I Win” button example, either. “I Win” means that by performing a relatively easy to do action, you will conquer an element 100% of the time.

    Well, I should hope its different! But that doesn’t mean I’m designing for people to stick around for X amount of time. They could win on the very first shot! Or if they don’t, they can say ‘screw it’ and give up and cease playing. Just by clicking once, they have played/done something.

    I’ll just add something – I think play to win and themepark play can exist in the one game in a priority scheme. One of them has first priority over the other and where the second one would, if it were executed fully, conflict with the one with the first priority, it gets axed. You can probably see an example of this with fast travel in fallout 3 – you have to walk to a location, to begin with. Thus, a themepark. But then you can quick travel after that, thus the themepark is set to second priority. If you kept having to walk and had no quick travel option, that indicates themepark coming first and foremost. And I think this ties in with Nils example. In my browser game, I’d probably admit there is some themepark, but it comes as a second priority (or if it somehow slips towards first place, it’s a design error on my part).

    Comment by Callan S. — 30 August, 2011 @ 4:52 PM

  16. Callan S. said:

    “What they are doing are putting all the effort into never letting players come to realise it is boring. They take a players initial goodwill that this will be fun and then they keep spinning that along, making sure the player never sees enough to conclude anything other than his initial goodwill assumption.”

    This is very confusing: if a player is having fun and they never “allow” him to become bored then the game is fun.

    “I’ve beaten many single player games in my time, and I feel really good at the end. Not bored – satisfied!

    While a themepark player gets there and to him, he’s just run out of themepark. There’s nothing satisfying about that!”

    A themepark game has many “endings” – as many as there are bosses. A game doesn’t have to end to be satisfying. RPGs are about story and every good story I’ve read, I’ve wanted to read more.

    What it sounds like is you like single player RPGs more than MMOs because MMOs are constantly being developed and therefore have no end. That is certainly a valid preference but doesn’t make single player RPGs better than MMOs. Its just a personal preference.

    Comment by Djinn — 30 August, 2011 @ 6:58 PM

  17. Fun vs. satisfaction

    [...] boring and want to just get to the dungeon, get your loot, and scram. Once the game introduces an efficiency like an LFD tool, I will likely no longer get the satisfaction from traveling to the dungeon entrance, reducing my [...]

    Pingback by Psychochild's Blog — 20 May, 2013 @ 11:54 AM

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