Addictive Gameplay

I do find it interesting that I avoid MMOs for the most part, but I do enjoy addictive gameplay.  I suppose what I mean by that is game design or elements that reward spending time with the game, or optimizing interactions with the game.  So, for example, designing a good set of attacks that combo nicely in a Tales game, or a good party set up in Final Fantasy V.

An addictive game tends to offer rewards.  For example, MMOs may offer randomized loot, which could be upgrades, traded, or sold.  Might and Magic games also tend to reward exploration with loot.  Unfortunately, you could easily get chests full of useless stuff that wasn’t really worth carrying it up to sell it.  So, thinking carefully about rewards could be a way to encourage fun in the game.  For example, let’s say that you could turn weapons into crafting components.  While you may not want another “wooden gun stock” say, you could be glad to get a pile of badly made guns, if you could turn the parts into a better gun.

An addictive game offers variety.  You may have new ways to fight the same stuff, new areas to fight the same stuff, or new stuff to fight in the same areas.  This helps cut down on the button mashy elements.  You may also get variety in appearance.  For example, Dragon Quest IX has tons of various costumes and weapons.  Most of the equipment offers little statistical benefts, so you’re really just picking what you want your character to look like.

An addictive game allows options.  For example, Dragon Quest IX could have you doing quests (which may be fighting something a specific way, or gathering items.)  You could also progress the plot.  You could simply grind, or you could grind on the rare metal slime families.  You could also craft items, or craft items to get money.  You could then go online and buy stuff from the online shop.

Some games try to encourage a shorter game time by cutting down on grinding, or by reducing rewards when you do too much grinding.  I think this is – a curious design choice.  After all, if you want to waste time and break the difficulty curve, why stop someone?  Is it going to mean they won’t see the full extent of something?  Sure, but why does that matter?  I suppose it becomes a question what “challenge” is for the player.  After all, if you want to be challenged, then you wouldn’t want to get too strong.

I suppose a good design choice, in my opinion, would be to balance a boss for someone rushing in the game, and offer options to make it more difficult if you want.  If someone wants to make things easy, let them, once you challenge them enough.  Then, everyone’s happy.  People who grind can grind, and they can do secret missions / stealing stuff if desired.


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