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  What makes a game ADDICTING?  (Read 7701 times)
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Offline tonberry1

Junior Member





« Posted 2005-04-04 19:43:23 »

I have been thinking, which things we should remember when programming little games (or big games)?

One thing I figured out, is that the game needs to be many-sided. Like for example that the player has special powers or many weapons etc. A good example of this is the HL1 mod - Richochet. The game itself looks pretty good and the idea is fresh, but if the player cant do anything else than throw a disc and move. It isnt versatile enough.

Another thing is of course that the game needs to be easy to learn. Many people wont play the game more than couple of minutes if it has millions of rules.

And for the difficulty level: the game cant be just for pros, but it must have pretty much difficulty if the target group isnt the children. So the difficulty should be lightly difficult.

- -

Any comments about my thoughts or any other things to keep in mind?

-= Life is what you decide it to be - Solid Snake =-
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #1 - Posted 2005-04-04 20:21:11 »

The ideal game concept is so simple that you can explain the essence of the game in a single sentence but complex enough that you can play it any number of times without it losing your attention. It has to stay fun at whatever level you are playing it.

A lot of old games do this- I'm thinking of board and card games rather than computer games here - the ones that have lasted a long time are usually very finely tuned gaming experiences. It's not always easy to see how these principles can be applied to a modern PC or Console game but the mechanics are still the same, under the graphical fluff.
Offline Mojomonkey

Senior Member




ooh ooh eee eeee


« Reply #2 - Posted 2005-04-05 14:54:47 »

Quote
The ideal game concept is so simple that you can explain the essence of the game in a single sentence but complex enough that you can play it any number of times without it losing your attention. It has to stay fun at whatever level you are playing it.


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Offline princec

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2005-04-06 07:39:12 »

That's it!

Cas Smiley

Offline tonberry1

Junior Member





« Reply #4 - Posted 2005-04-07 19:11:49 »

Hmm.. about that difficulty. Im almost finished my current game, its in final beta tests.

I found out that its only my opinion, that games should be challenging. Many of the testers thinks that the game is too difficult :/

-= Life is what you decide it to be - Solid Snake =-
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #5 - Posted 2005-04-07 22:15:28 »

I would say the optimum is for the game to taylor itself to the player- if the player is doing well the game should observe that and make itself more difficult more quickly than for a player who is progressing more slowly.
Offline Kosmon_X

Senior Newbie




Java games rock!


« Reply #6 - Posted 2005-04-07 23:37:28 »

There have been many books written and articles published on this subject. I'd suggest starting by reading books such as Raph Koster's "Theory of Fun for Game Design"
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #7 - Posted 2005-04-08 19:15:03 »

"Fun Theory" sounds like the worst thing in the world. It just sounds so... not fun.
Offline tonberry1

Junior Member





« Reply #8 - Posted 2005-04-11 13:03:50 »

Quote
I'd suggest starting by reading books such as Raph Koster's "Theory of Fun for Game Design"

Hmm. I havent even thought that there might be books about this subject. I need to visit library some day Smiley

-= Life is what you decide it to be - Solid Snake =-
Offline kappa
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« Reply #9 - Posted 2005-04-11 18:24:50 »

simple, fluid and either unique game every time or challenging.
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Offline mustang

Junior Member





« Reply #10 - Posted 2005-04-15 01:36:12 »

You asked the question of how to create addictive behavior in players, and then talk about difficulty in game play or level design. When you increase or decrease difficulty of game play you are affecting the players sense of goal achievement. For example; You may have a game designed were a player must reach the end of a maze, and as they approach the end of the maze an increase in traps makes this goal more difficult.

Creating realistic and obtainable goals for the player is a key to giving them a sense of purpose for playing the game. Meanwhile, creating difficulty in the game directly affects the player’s motivation to continue playing. People like to work towards realistic but challenging goals in life, and in play. If the goals in the game are too easy, then the player will loose interest, and if those goals are impossible then the player will quit. So a challenging and realistic goal is the key to motivating a player to continue playing.

To make a video game ADDICTIVE one should try the laws of operant condition from psychology. You should create a pairing of a conditioned stimulus with an unconditioned response.

For example; when you play on-line Poker you have an unconditioned response of an increased heart rate, and emotional arousal with the presentation of a reward (i.e. the pot of money). At the time that the player wins the hand the video game can present an auditory and visual queue that marks a conditioned stimulus. Now as the player plays Poker they develop a conditioned response of excitement when ever similar auditory or visual queues are presented.

So, to create an affective and addictive video game the use of auditory/visual stimulus is very important. You should present a stimulus prior to the presentation of a reward. For example; you could play same theme music just before a every level boss. You could flash eye popping large text on the screen when the player picks up a power up or scores points and this will help present to the players that a reward has been given for their efforts to play the game.

Pairing this conditioned stimulus with rewards in the game is the key to making it a successfully addictive video game. The better you can pair an unconditioned response with a conditioned stimulus will result in a stronger addiction for the player.
Offline Conflux

Senior Newbie




Java games rock!


« Reply #11 - Posted 2005-05-18 15:40:02 »

Well I think there are different approches for addictive games.

take a look at a few examples (you all know):

Tetris:
The one and only GAME! Very basic game elements but unlimited combinations. Easy to learn, hard to stop playing. Tetris is what I would call "a fun game". A game that fits easily into a 15minutes break and keeps you busy a whole night (I you're a freak) with some basic geometrical forms and an increasing drop-speed.
What tetris really does is to test the players reactions. It tries to train him, pushing him to his limits. And the player wants to be pushed (who doesnt?) Wink

Diablo:
One really addictive game. Mostly titled as an RPG, but I doubt it is one. What Diablo does is to wake and feed a basic instinkt of human evolution: hunting and collecting.
We all started sitting in caves, hunting down wild animals and collecting stuff... and we still do... and we love it Wink
Nobody really cares about the background of town Trinsic. What are the names of the NPCs? Is there a deep Story? Long dialogues? - No! There's a "Hunting bow of the fox", "Kite shield of the zodiac" and so on...
What I try to say: you can put the concept of diable in any other game Universe, make it SciFi, make it a Real-life Sim.. . it doesnt really matter

Monkey Island
Why are Adventures of old days in everybodys mind when we are talking about great games? Because they were great! What was great? The stunning 3D grahpics? The voice actors? - It was the storytelling! People like to read exciting books, watch movies. Little children listen totally excited to fary-tales, their parent tell them before they go to sleep. It inspires their phantasy. Reaching the gamers phantasies is the key to addicitve story-telling games.

I think these are quite good examples for want I try to say. If you want to make an addictive game, try not to reinvent the wheel. Go into the mind of the gamers. Make games from gamers for gamers (as once was the motto from interplay). Be smart try to get the right mix of these basic three elements from above, you'll make a great game some people will remember Smiley
Offline zingbat

Senior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #12 - Posted 2005-06-04 14:39:21 »

We can take some good points about fun from this thread already. Putting it has a theory is something i would never do, because, well, it would loose its fun. Grin

Some guidelines we can follow (many taken from these same thread). We don't have to follow them all or follow them at all to build a good game, it's just guidelines and what works for some games will not work for others and vice-versa:

Complexity - the more complex the game the more the potential fun that can be taken from it

Chalenge - a bigger chalenge also increases the fun potential

Replayability - if when you play it again it offers a sligtly different experience, this is also a potential for more fun

Immersion - how good is the illusion of reality

Accessibilty - the game doesn't need an Einstein to use it and follow it, If the player is stuck on an hard part of the game it won't stop him from continuing to play the game

Linearity - too much linearity can kill a game

Learning Curve - A soft learning curve appears to be a good thing

Continuity - The game follows logicaly and intuitively from the players actions, also potentialy better

Innovation - The more original the better

Identification - The player identifies himself with its avatar

Beliavable - The emotions transmited by npcs are beliavable, even if its just a small game with bitmap chars, even three little characters like this :*) can transmit an emotion

Stimulus/Reward - The game stimulates the player and gives him a reward for his curiosity, later the player develops a response to stimulus

Variety/Repetition - Don't present allways the same info, hints, dialogs, situations in the same way. Information can be given by images, situations the player watches, dialog, even the architecture of a city or the layout of a room.  On the other side repetition can be important in creating the right feeling if well used.

Ambience - Games that are concistent in creating a certain ambient or the feeling of "something in the air"  have more potential to be fun.

There's probably more than this. But, i repeat, these are only guidelines. I can remenber of many great games that didn't follow many of these guidlenes.
Offline ChrisM

JGO Coder


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END OF LINE.


« Reply #13 - Posted 2005-06-04 16:45:49 »

Want to understand what makes a game fun?  Then you need to read this book:



http://www.theoryoffun.com/

It was written by Raph Koster, Chief Creative Officer for Sony Online Entertainment.  Raph is one of the brighest minds I have met in the industry and a great guy all around.  I saw him give the presentation that became the basis for this book at the Austin Game Conference back in 2003 and it was brilliant.

-Chris

Offline zingbat

Senior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #14 - Posted 2005-06-04 18:04:54 »

Maybe I should have a look it. But the book title, missing the words theory and fun is scaring.  Grin
Offline zingbat

Senior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #15 - Posted 2005-06-04 18:20:45 »

Just gave a quick look at their site and found some interesting links and resources:

http://www.theoryoffun.com/grammar/gdc2005.htm

http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20041203/koster_01.shtml

Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder




Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #16 - Posted 2005-06-05 01:45:41 »

I tend to agree with the first 3 ideas presented.. but then I thought about  "many-sided" and "Tetris" at the same time, and they just didn't fit together (there's a Tetris joke in there somewhere).  Yet, Tetris continues to be a game that people play often after all these years.

Offline zingbat

Senior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #17 - Posted 2005-06-05 02:03:21 »

This kind of knoweldege (game design) is much different from technical knowledge. The book is probaly right in what it says and most great games will follow more than one guideline explained there. But if you pick up one guideline you will most likely find games that don't follow it and its even possible that a great game can be made that doesn't follow any of the guidelines mention in there. This is how people work with vague and blurry concepts like fun (game fun) and gameplay. Technical knowledge is worthless in this area.
 
Offline tonberry1

Junior Member





« Reply #18 - Posted 2005-06-05 11:11:13 »

...Technical knowledge is worthless in this area.
I wouldnt say exactly so. For usual games I think its good to consider those guidelines, because without them the game can fail pretty well.

But, then are the games that are remembered after years, they need to be some way "new" and if they follow these guidelines, they arent new. These guidelines are just collected from good games.

-= Life is what you decide it to be - Solid Snake =-
Offline zingbat

Senior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #19 - Posted 2005-06-05 13:53:25 »

... because without them the game can fail pretty well.

These guidelines are just collected from good games.

Ok so what you are saying here is that those guidelines are essential for making good games (meaning you can't make good games without them) but at the same time they were collected from good games. It's a bit like the problem of knowing what come first: the egg or the chicken.
Offline Orangy Tang

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« Reply #20 - Posted 2005-06-05 14:17:43 »

Technical knowledge is worthless in this area.
Much like art, most peoples' initial opinion is that there can't be formal rules and theory that govern what makes something good or bad. Especially in such a creative medium where sucess ('fun') is difficult to quantify. However art and games still have their own set of core theory which is needed for something to be good.

Much like art, you must understand the rules before you break them.

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Offline arne

Senior Member




money is the worst drug- we should not let it rule


« Reply #21 - Posted 2005-06-05 18:17:58 »

I'd say a good idea is the basic element. If you haven't got a good idea to start with, you're only able to reproduce other games. This way  you won't be able to make the game as addicting as your "template" game, simply because the people know your template game and they either liked the old one, so they already know all the tricks concerning your game or they didn't like the old game, so they won't like your game either.

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Offline erikd

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Maximumisness


« Reply #22 - Posted 2005-06-06 13:49:39 »

I'd say a good idea is the basic element. If you haven't got a good idea to start with, you're only able to reproduce other games. This way  you won't be able to make the game as addicting as your "template" game, simply because the people know your template game and they either liked the old one, so they already know all the tricks concerning your game or they didn't like the old game, so they won't like your game either.

So how this this apply to 'genre' games? You know, like the idea of "A game where you run around, picking up guns and shooting bad guys, with a first person perspective". It's done to death, but many times new incarnations of basically the same game are improvements, like Doom was better than Wolfenstein3D, Quake2 was better than Doom, Half-Life was better than Quake2 etc.
I don't think being innovative in the basic element is mandatory for a successful or 'fun' game, and recycling old, proven ideas can be a good starting point.

Offline arne

Senior Member




money is the worst drug- we should not let it rule


« Reply #23 - Posted 2005-06-06 15:25:58 »

Yep sure, but you will have to have something new. To make a complete game would be not also very hard but maybe also impossible (because there is already lot's of stuff out there)

:: JOODE :: Xith3d :: OdeJava ::
Offline zingbat

Senior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #24 - Posted 2005-06-06 17:03:48 »

However art and games still have their own set of core theory which is needed for something to be good.

I agree those guidelines are useful but that we need to follow guidelines to make something good is a statement that defies their purpose. Every artist, ultimatly, tries to follow his own sense of what is good (fun in the case of computer games). If you are uninspired then follow a couple of guidelines may help you finding that inspiration back. Otherwise you are just doing something by receipt without much soul in it.

On the oposite field, technology seraches for receipts (techniques) that can be used over and over again with the same pratical results. It wouldn't be much use for a transistor if its electrical properties couldn't be predictable and framed into a certain model. The some thing doesn't apply to games. Once you have played a game genre over and over again, your brain gets used to it and you will need to look for something new. It's like a natural legal drug and we are legal drug dealers in a certain sense of the word.  Grin
Offline arne

Senior Member




money is the worst drug- we should not let it rule


« Reply #25 - Posted 2005-06-06 18:03:45 »

Quote
(Gaming)'s like a natural legal drug and we are legal drug dealers in a certain sense of the word.

Wow I like that one !!!

:: JOODE :: Xith3d :: OdeJava ::
Offline ZaBlanc

Senior Newbie





« Reply #26 - Posted 2005-07-21 21:11:58 »

One axis of truth:  The game must seem to easy, yet be hard.

Think about it...Pac-Man, 4 slow-moving ghosts, and a giant screen.  How could they possibly catch you?  But they do.  I must play again!
How about Keno?  A large number of numbers are selected, and you only need to get a small subset of them.  This is easy!  But it's not.
Texas Hold Em Poker.  Oh, this time, I'll get that Ace pair.  Just one more game...I only need to make the best 5 of 7 on the table, how hard can this be???
Offline g666

Junior Member





« Reply #27 - Posted 2005-08-03 16:26:01 »

I think somebody once said that what makes a game great is how the buttons you press translate to onscreen action. Simple, only it really not Grin

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Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #28 - Posted 2005-08-03 18:05:19 »

Want to understand what makes a game fun?  Then you need to read this book:

* blahblahblahh gets out his signed copy

Doesn't really tell you what makes a game fun, but contains lots and lots of points and ideas that should get your mind churning away thinking about many different aspects both of fun and of games.

It's really "a theory of what is a computer game" more than "what is fun". It makes some good points about why people play games and how - although it also misses out quite a few equally good and important points. This is not so much an omission as it is a deliberatly narrow focus, concentrating on particular aspects.

It certainly doesn't tell you anything new about why a game is addicting - although, like with everything else it covers, it might well give you some new ideas of your own about why they are addiciting.

It's an interesting read, but have a pen and paper ready for all the notes it'll make you want to take down...

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline Amos Wenger

Senior Member




Everything's possible, but not everything's fun...


« Reply #29 - Posted 2005-11-03 18:21:42 »

Somebody should stick this discussion thread  Cheesy

"Once you start working on something, don't be afraid of failure and don't abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest"
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