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Goals or no goals?


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#1 codeman_nz   Members   -  Reputation: 229

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:36 PM

Hi everyone,

What do you think is better, a game where you can do whatever you want like Simcity, Civilization or the Sims or games where you have set goals and levels to complete?

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#2 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1931

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 03:22 PM

It depends on what sort of game I feel like playing (the result of my mood).
or
It depends on if either type of game happen to catch my attention (the result of the game's marketing on me).

If you're looking for an answer to help you decide what sort of game to make, my suggestion is that you go for whichever you happen to have a greater interest in developing.

#3 Suspense   Members   -  Reputation: 449

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 04:09 PM

First, some background for my comments: some people use the presence or absence of goals to define something as a game or a toy: games are activities with goals to be achieved, while toys are simply objects to be played with. By that definition, SimCity, Minecraft, and the like are toys, not games. A ball is a toy to be played with; basketball is a game to be won.

I find this perspective useful in describing my own attraction to and interaction with computer games (using the general definition of digital entertainment media rather than the specific definition above). I love the idea of toys like Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress. But I find these toys don't keep my attention very well. Games that provide some kind of goal hold me attention much better, even when the goal no longer holds any challenge (as attested to by my countless replays of Metroid games.) Interestingly, the game that held my attention the most consistently is Terraria, which kind of blends the two approaches by having an open world along side a steady progression of equipment, abilities, and difficulty.

From a development standpoint, they both have difficulties. For a game, you need a defined way to evaluate success or failure. In many cases it's as simple as reaching the end of the level or having a higher score when the timer reaches 0. Toys can be just as simple or many times more complex: compare the simplicity of Minecraft's creative mode to the incredible complexity of Dwarf Fortress.

#4 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3551

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:16 PM

I think it completely depends on personal preferences.

I prefer single player "games" (interactive software) to have goals simply because I am not inclined to invest a whole lot of time in them. For me, Multiplayer games are another matter, where there's not really a true endgame, and I keep playing because of the gameplay and social aspects.

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#5 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:18 PM

I find the core to games like Sim City and Minecraft is the player will establish their own goals ... build a thriving working city in Sim City ... or build a not so thriving city in Minecraft a block at a time. I think rather than goals there perhaps needs to be progression ... either you progress through the story, mission objectives or you progress on your own personal project.

Edited by All Names Taken, 23 October 2012 - 05:19 PM.


#6 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4652

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:00 PM

I generally prefer goals. Games like The Sims seem great in concept, but I always end up quitting them before I have seen all the content because I don't get any feedback or recognition on my self-chosen goals, or I discover I have self-chosen a goal which is actually impossible within the program, and I just don't have ant reason to care about exploring the remaining content, nor any efficient path to see what I haven't seen yet.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#7 Adalad   Members   -  Reputation: 230

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 01:09 AM

There no "this is better than that" and there will never be. It depends on the whole set. As Suspense said you need an objective to be a game, it can be imposed by the system o created by yourself. To keep people playing you need at least one goal, or allow the player to set their own.

In my opinion, providing a progression system is also a goal. Unlock items, be better, more efficient...

#8 Suspense   Members   -  Reputation: 449

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 02:20 PM

I generally prefer goals. Games like The Sims seem great in concept, but I always end up quitting them before I have seen all the content because I don't get any feedback or recognition on my self-chosen goals, or I discover I have self-chosen a goal which is actually impossible within the program, and I just don't have ant reason to care about exploring the remaining content, nor any efficient path to see what I haven't seen yet.

I've been thinking a lot lately about this idea of consuming content and what it means to game developers. Is a game not "finished" until the player has consumed all its content? Is a game "finished" as soon as the player has consumed it all? To what degree does content consumption equate to finishing? Is it when the player completes the game's primary goal?

I'll use my own experience as an example of what these questions mean. I played WoW during its closed beta and continued to play for a few years after its release. I took a break for a couple years, then I eventually came back and played through the first expansion. But then an interesting thing happened. I felt done. I had completed the game, consumed all its content. I knew there was still fun to be had and progress to be made through PvP, battlegrounds, raids, etc. But I had no drive to do those things. I had completed my goal for the game, which I only then realized I had set for myself: to see the Warcraft world and explore it. When I recognized that goal and that I had achieved it, I left the game and never went back. Since then, no MMO has been able to hold my attention for more than a few months.

#9 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3052

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:04 PM

Most of the best selling PC and console games have clear primary objectives and reward the gamer for continued play.



Clinton

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

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#10 Radikalizm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2791

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 07:02 PM

Most of the best selling PC and console games have clear primary objectives and reward the gamer for continued play.



Clinton


Got any data to back such a claim? The sims and the sims 2 are the two top selling PC games of all times, with the sims 3 and minecraft also being in the top 10 and simcity 3000 just outside of the top 10(according to wikipedia). These are all games with no clearly defined goals, but they do seem to sell on a massive scale, so be careful with statements like the one you made in your post.

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#11 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3052

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:47 PM

There are many years of gaming history. Sorry for the typo because this is what I meant to convey:


Most of the best selling PC and console games have had clear primary objectives and reward the gamer for continued play.

I am not talking necessarily about the current leaders. I apologize for the misunderstanding.


Clinton

Edited by 3Ddreamer, 24 October 2012 - 08:48 PM.

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#12 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3052

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:59 PM


Most of the best selling PC and console games have clear primary objectives and reward the gamer for continued play.



Clinton


Got any data to back such a claim? The sims and the sims 2 are the two top selling PC games of all times, with the sims 3 and minecraft also being in the top 10 and simcity 3000 just outside of the top 10(according to wikipedia). These are all games with no clearly defined goals, but they do seem to sell on a massive scale, so be careful with statements like the one you made in your post.


No data is necessary because it is only a miscommunication.

I look at gross sales in dollar amount as being more important than numbers of copies sold. My view is also that the history of top games over the decades is more important than the last year or two in a sense of the permanent desirables.

Some games have had hundreds of millions or more than a billion dollars in gross sales in recent years, so there is more than one way to measure sales.

People are obviously willing to pay more money per game if there are objectives and rewards, speaking in a general sense, though we all know there are exceptions and exceptional games.


Clinton

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#13 WildField   Members   -  Reputation: 296

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:25 AM

Games without goals are usually harder to make fun, than games with clear goals. Simply because your game has to offer a lot of stuff to do, so the goals are emergent. A simple game like tetris can't be fun without predefined goals.

I would recommend staying away from sandboxes unless you have clear understanding of what you are doing.

#14 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 751

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 01:29 PM

First, some background for my comments: some people use the presence or absence of goals to define something as a game or a toy: games are activities with goals to be achieved, while toys are simply objects to be played with. By that definition, SimCity, Minecraft, and the like are toys, not games. A ball is a toy to be played with; basketball is a game to be won.


God games are toys with goals appended. It's like finding a ball with instructions on how to have fun with it.
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#15 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4652

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 02:44 PM


I generally prefer goals. Games like The Sims seem great in concept, but I always end up quitting them before I have seen all the content because I don't get any feedback or recognition on my self-chosen goals, or I discover I have self-chosen a goal which is actually impossible within the program, and I just don't have ant reason to care about exploring the remaining content, nor any efficient path to see what I haven't seen yet.

I've been thinking a lot lately about this idea of consuming content and what it means to game developers. Is a game not "finished" until the player has consumed all its content? Is a game "finished" as soon as the player has consumed it all? To what degree does content consumption equate to finishing? Is it when the player completes the game's primary goal?

I'll use my own experience as an example of what these questions mean. I played WoW during its closed beta and continued to play for a few years after its release. I took a break for a couple years, then I eventually came back and played through the first expansion. But then an interesting thing happened. I felt done. I had completed the game, consumed all its content. I knew there was still fun to be had and progress to be made through PvP, battlegrounds, raids, etc. But I had no drive to do those things. I had completed my goal for the game, which I only then realized I had set for myself: to see the Warcraft world and explore it. When I recognized that goal and that I had achieved it, I left the game and never went back. Since then, no MMO has been able to hold my attention for more than a few months.

Well, there are different ways to define finished. Is it when the player stops playing, even if they don't feel satisfied? Is it when the player feels satisfied, even if they keep playing? Is a game necessarily one big piece of entertainment, or might some games more usefully be compared to a series of novels or something like the Marvel or DC comicverse which maintains several parallel comic series? Possibly the player could "finish" something several times over the course of playing a game, but then start something new or have already started something new. Some players don't care about experiencing all the content, or care about some kinds of content and not others. Some games make it impossible for the player to experience all the content in a single play-through. Some games have a set amount of official content but encourage players to create additional content and assist the players in distributing this content to each other. Different players may have a different idea of what the game's main goal is too: can't tell you how many breeding sim/monster capturing type games I've started with the goal of collecting one of every creature, only to find that the game doesn't allow this or acknowledge that players might want to do it. And I think I've twice stopped playing an MMO after getting an awesome mount because that became my main goal, and once I had achieved it I didn't find something new to pursue.

Edited by sunandshadow, 26 October 2012 - 12:29 PM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#16 Suspense   Members   -  Reputation: 449

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 09:26 AM

Different player's may have a different idea of what the game's main goal is too: can't tell you how many breeding sim/monster capturing type games I've started with the goal of collecting one of every creature, only to find that the game doesn't allow this or acknowledge that players might want to do it.

Interesting. It sounds like the game mechanics suggested a goal implicitly, but then it turns out the goal wasn't actually achievable? Like not being able to catch all the Pokemon without trading? Or is it more like not providing enough storage space for all them?

#17 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4652

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 12:28 PM


Different player's may have a different idea of what the game's main goal is too: can't tell you how many breeding sim/monster capturing type games I've started with the goal of collecting one of every creature, only to find that the game doesn't allow this or acknowledge that players might want to do it.

Interesting. It sounds like the game mechanics suggested a goal implicitly, but then it turns out the goal wasn't actually achievable? Like not being able to catch all the Pokemon without trading? Or is it more like not providing enough storage space for all them?

Usually it's a lack of storage space, since trading pokemon is sort of within the game - no one would bat an eye at that if it were in an online game where it's easier to find a trading partner, it's just a PITA in a mostly singleplayer offline game. But even if there's enough storage space, the game doesn't acknowledge the player's collecting efforts with achievements or quests and rewards, or even NPC dialogue.

I'm not sure whether the game mechanics implicitly suggest collecting, or if it's more true to say that many humans have a natural urge to collect, especially things that have one base type with lots of variations. Certainly everyone who works to build a collection wants to have it be praised by others, whether those others are NPCs or other players.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#18 Telcontar   Members   -  Reputation: 880

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 10:35 PM

I enjoy both kinds of games, but I consistently spend more time with games that let me ignore their goals for my own, or which provide many other goals over and on top of "The Story."

Skyrim is a pretty good example. I've played the game with a few different characters, and one of them has reached very high levels without progressing very far in the main storyline. At no point did I feel like the world was stunted because of this. I can have a full and fun game experience without the main quest.

Dwarf Fortress is perhaps the ultimate in "Set your own goals" and I have correspondingly poured hours of my life into it designing and building megaprojects, modding, and challenging myself to survive different scenarios.

I think that the ability to set one's own goals makes the game more apt as a story generator, letting the player create a story through playing, rather than just a story teller passing on the writing of somebody else.

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#19 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3052

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 08:27 AM

It is easy for market forces to cause a demand for video toys instead of video games -not meant to offend anybody. There is still a little boy in me, too, and I like to take a break from more mature game challenges to let the little boy in me loose once in a while.

Am I adult enough to enjoy the highly goal oriented games yet adult enough to let the little boy in me just be spontaneous?


Clinton

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#20 PyrZern   Members   -  Reputation: 247

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:58 AM

Let's also take a look at Skyrim. The game has it core game goal, finish the game. The game also features many other goals, depending on what the players want to do. (to reach max level as well, to get that new armors, to look awesome, to become very powerful, to explore the whole game, to buy a house and marry an NPC wife, to kill every villager, or to keep playing it with new mods and so on.)

So with Mass Effect, you can beat the game, but you can also have other goals to accomplish as well.

Almost the same with MMOs, core game goal is to finish the game's content (hopefully the developers will keep updating and releasing more contents), apart from that, the game is open and let players make their own goals.

IMO, this is the best and keeps players the longest.




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