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What makes my game fun? PT 1.

Posted by , in Game Design 24 August 2012 · 905 views

I first wanted to post about all three core aspects, but then I realized it might be too much to post in one entry. Instead I decided to only post one aspect and try digging a bit deeper.

So here it is:

Part 1, The "RPG" aspect
If you were kind enough to read my ramblings about the lore, you may have noticed that you will probably start as a novice soldier and get new equipment/Skills/Level ups through the course of the game.
I get into more detail on this in a later post (very, very much later), currently they are just scribbles on a piece of paper that magically make sense to me... anyways.
These points I am focussing on came from comparing Diablo 2 to Diablo 3, and why exactly I stopped playing the sequel.

It seems trivial: "Well I did 15.8 dps before, now I do 21.1. If that isn't progress I don't know what is."
Yes, this is essentially it, but the player should not notice it while looking at the damage he does. Diablo 2 does a very good job by letting your character "evolve". For example: You start out our Amazone, who can throw a spear. After 10 levels, you can throw a poisonous spear, after 10 levels more a lightning spear, after 30 levels more a lightning spear that breaks into more lightnings.
The fun skills were the ones that "evolve" as well. The Amazone had a great example,
lvl 1 skill: can throw a lightning spear that breaks up into one other lightning.
Lvl 20 skill: can throw lightning spear that breaks up into QUAZZILLION F*CKING LIGHTNING STORM ULTIMATE KILLAARRR.
In the end yes, you only did more damage. But you also hit more enemies AND you looked badass while doing so.

"This will be SWEET" times
In my opinion, this is the most important aspect in the early game, I want the player to be excited about a future skill/future crafted weapon the player can have. The player's character cannot start of with the coolest abilities, but he needs a reason to keep playing. If the user doesn't at least say it in his mind, it did something wrong.

to explore possibilities/to punish and enslave
you get the best illustration these two oposites by comparing the skill system of diablo 2 and diablo 3.
Diablo 3 let's you freely choose and rechoose your skill. The good side of this is that you can explore possibilities, what works best etc. You cannot do anything wrong.
The bad thing is, you cannot do anything wrong. Why would you play up a second barbarian, the only difference between the first and the second one is the gear, which can also be interchanged.
Diablo 2 took the other side of the extreme, it punished you for bad skilling/bad attribute distribution, your character was weak in comparison. And because the skill system was very complex, you would make many, many mistakes before you would even come near a good skillset. This will easily throw off new players.
Now, what will I do?
Definitely not the Diablo 3 way (how can you even justify selecting a few skills from a big pool? Is your character too stupid to remember more than 6 at once?).
I haven't decided yet, I will analyze the reason why the system was so complex, and maybe give the novice player a little boost. But I definately want to punish the player for making skill mistakes. It is frustrating, but the player will continue playing as long as he feels it was "his" mistake and not the one of the game. Finding his optimum skillset will be far more rewarding.

So, this was it for the first part, stick around for the second part soon. What do you guys think about Diablo 2 and 3, what was good/bad?

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