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  What makes a game ADDICTING?  (Read 9465 times)
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Offline jbanes

JGO Coder

Projects: 1

"Java Games? Incredible! Mr. Incredible, that is!"

« Reply #30 - Posted 2005-12-01 19:50:07 »

My own thought to what makes a game fun is...


More precisely, it's one way to make a game fun. The difficult part is to actually maintain an Adrenaline response in the player without outright shocking his system. (side note: Some people like system shocks. For example, Doom 3 players seem to love it, despite the lack of any other gameplay. I personally find it a turn-off, as do many other players.)

Good ways I can think of to create and maintain an adrenaline rush are:

  • Speed - Ms. PacMan was better than PacMan because it was faster. This is a natural response in humans who always seem to want faster cars, faster planes, faster rollercoasters, etc.
  • Sensory Overload - Action that occurs simultaneously requires that your brain move to a higher state of alert in order to deal with the situation. This isn't a "fight or flight" response, but rather a ramping up to handle potential danger. (Even if that danger is self-inflicted.)
  • Immersion - If your controls are clunky you're never going to actually connect with the environment. i.e. It's very easy to get caught up in a panicing crowd if you're in the middle of a crowd. It's not so easy to get caught up in the panic if you're looking at it out the window of your safe Townhouse.
  • Fantasy - Why is kicking butt as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle so much more fun than kicking but as a generic character? (e.g. The Cheetah Brothers! Bonus points to anyone who can name the reference.) The answer is that many players have imaginative fantasies about being the characters in the middle of a battle. Video games allow them to live those fantasies to an extent. Multi-player gameplay allows a social aspect of a shared fantasy. ("Hah! Nothing's sharper than Leo's swords!" ... "That's nothing! Bad guys, feel my nun-chuck wrath!" ... "Pfff. Don would have invented his way out of this situation if he wasn't stuck fighting with his bo!")
  • Challenge - Even the best game gets boring the moment it gets repetitive. Many games today play up the Fantasy aspect at the expense of the challenge. Thus you wander through a game beginning to end, but you don't have to put up much of a fight along the way. Challenge adds to the addiction by getting the player to yell, "Just one more try! I'll get it next time!" Of course, it's a balance because the player needs to feel rewarded for accomplishing something. Level bosses are particularly good for this as the player can have a relatively easy time during the level itself, then face a difficult challenge that will stay behind him once it has been overcome. Allowing the player to take damage instead of instant death is another method used to mitigate the gameplay while still providing a challenge. You want to make the player feel like he "almost got it that time."
  • Rewards - Given that the computer cannot provide anything material, rewards are a difficult thing to provide. Early games used a scoreboard, then relied on the natural competitiveness of players for the feeling of reward. Later games offered new artwork with every "level" that the player reached. Soon, new weapons and powerups were added to the player as he progressed. Eventually, new challenges were found to be an effective way of keeping players interested. (e.g. A *need* to see what the next boss looks like.) Finally, end game sequences and cut-scenes were used to convince the player to play for the longest time possible.

Obviously, a "fun" game should use a combination of these. A few of my favorites are:

  • Killer Instinct - Speedwise, this game was just incredible. Nothing this fast had ever been seen in a fighting game before. The fact that the speed was mostly an illusion perpetrated by the combo system was irrelevant. Anyone unfamiliar with the game easily succumbed to sensory overload while trying to sort it all out. The game also rewarded players with finishing moves, spectacular scenery, and FMV end-sequences. Challenge increased swiftly to keep the player interested, but was mitigated by the double-life bar and the chance to seek revenge when a finishing move failed.
  • Wing Commander - Who hasn't fantasized about being in space and fighting battles by the seat of your pants? Wing Commander not only satisfied this fantasy with immersive gameplay and controls, but it also constantly rewarded you with non-linear story sequences, medals, new ships, competition over kill counts, and increasingly challenging "Ace" opponents. Roberts could have kicked this game out the door with its revolutionary gameplay and made a bundle. But he took the time to add all these important details that make it fun to play beyond the Ooos and Ahhhs of technology.
  • Star Trek: Bridge Commander - Okay, who here has never wished he could captain a Federation starship? This game plays to the fantasy, and even rewards players with storyline, new ships, and new weapons. Not to mention authentic voices from the TV show. Gameplay is challenging in many areas, and battles are heated events happening at a (relatively) fast pace. Immersion is complete as you give orders and watch them immediately get carried out. If this game had any flaw, it would be that the challenge isn't properly balanced. It's too easy to feel helpless when you lose your ship (causing players to put down the game) while at the same time most missions are far too simple to remain interesting.
  • Command and Conquer - From the moment you launch the installer, bits and pieces are whizzing all over the place causing sensory overload. Rock music is used to accentuate this overload. Gameplay is extremely fast paced with a strong sense of urgency, and the design allows players to live the experience of being a battlefield commander of sorts. The player is rewarded with cut-scene sequences, varied gameplay (e.g. In one mission you have nothing more than a single marine!), and ever increasing challenge.
  • Half Life - How could I leave Half Life off? Here's a game that was just another generic First Person Shooter. Then the beta testers got ahold of it and were bored stiff. Instead of kicking it out the door, Valve listened to the players and began implementing features that made the game more immersive, more challenging, and wove a rewarding storyline throughout the game. While I personally don't believe it to be one of the best games ever, it certainly holds a place in history for being one of the few First Person Shooters to break the mold and offer more than just technology.

So if you want to make a game "fun", worry less about the technology and more about the individual details that make up the complete package.  Gamers will drool over your pretty pictures before the game is released, but they'll keep playing it because of the "fun" inherent in your craftsmanship.

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Offline Malohkan

Senior Devvie

while (true) System.out.println("WOO!!!!");

« Reply #31 - Posted 2005-12-14 05:18:26 »

That was beautiful man... *tear*

It makes me think about what I need to do to Rimscape to make it as much fun as possible (after I get this darned GUI finished...)


Admin and Game Developer at
Play Rimscape!    |    Play Conquer!
Offline Jeff

JGO Coder

Got any cats?

« Reply #32 - Posted 2005-12-29 23:16:50 »

Crack.  A free vial of crack in ever box.

Sorry, I just really couldn't resist.

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Offline richardGoulter

Senior Newbie

Java - n. 2nd only to Chocolate

« Reply #33 - Posted 2005-12-31 22:31:38 »

The whole diffuculty thing:

The user (person playing the game) should feel that he can win,
he/she just loses because the make a mistake, and can do better next time

however, if the user still can't get it (beating a level or something) after many tries from
different angles, they'll get moody and quit.

games also shouldn't be more difficult because of hardware limitations,
or because they don't have a joystick or not.

What do i put here, i wonder... 218, 211, 207...
Offline CaptainJester

JGO Knight

Medals: 12
Projects: 2
Exp: 14 years

Make it work; make it better.

« Reply #34 - Posted 2006-01-01 18:03:40 »

games also shouldn't be more difficult because of hardware limitations,
or because they don't have a joystick or not.
I disagree with this.  I feel that FPS games are very hard to play with a joystick.  I use mouse and keyboard much more effectively.  However, this does not stop their success on consoles where joypads/sticks are the norm.

Offline Mr_Light

Senior Devvie

Medals: 1


« Reply #35 - Posted 2006-01-02 13:10:24 »

: x  man FPS games with a stick, thats just wrong.

It's harder to read code than to write it. - it's even harder to write readable code.

The gospel of brother Riven: "The guarantee that all bugs are in *your* code is worth gold." Amen brother a-m-e-n.
Offline richardGoulter

Senior Newbie

Java - n. 2nd only to Chocolate

« Reply #36 - Posted 2006-01-02 17:50:04 »

What i meant is if the user only has a keyboard and a mouse,
they shouldn't feel punished because they don't have a joystick or a mouse

(and anyone dumb enough to seriously play an fps with a joystick, - i mean for laughs or a try is ok, but seriously with a joystick deserves to be forced to listen to a really boring lecture at the same time as opera music or something)

and if you have tried playing an fps with a joystick, hope the trauma has subsided (i've never tried it before though, it sounds dangerous)

What do i put here, i wonder... 218, 211, 207...
Offline CaptainJester

JGO Knight

Medals: 12
Projects: 2
Exp: 14 years

Make it work; make it better.

« Reply #37 - Posted 2006-01-08 20:50:57 »

and if you have tried playing an fps with a joystick, hope the trauma has subsided (i've never tried it before though, it sounds dangerous)

Really nasty.  Don't even try.

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