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What makes games addicting?

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I think the title really says it all. Why are some games, dispite how simple they are (Pong, for instance) so incredibly addicting? Take Hazard Ball, for example (Awesome game written by Genocide, btw). That''s one of the best games i''ve played in years. Why? What part of the psycology makes that particular game so alluring? Curse you windows and your poor explanation of my errors!!!

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I know that I usually stick in a game when I say "Oohhh! That was close, just one more time!". That is, when you have no dead moments in a game. For instance, Tetris, you can never relax. Pong, it''s fast paced, you only get half a second to determine your next more, so you''re always on your toes. A game becomes addictive when; when you die, you had the opportunity to change that a few seconds earlier.

Do I make sense at all?

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If the equation

time = power

is true the game is likely to be addictive. It must ofcourse be fun too. Take Diablo II for instance. The more you play, i.e. the more time you waste, the more powerful you get.

NOTE: I have not played D2 for more than a year now but I was addicted back then when I played.


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quote:
Original post by Enselic
The more you play, i.e. the more time you waste, the more powerful you get.


But, you also have to make the player "think" they arn''t wasting their time. This can easily be accomplished by encorporating multiplayer elements, or awarding them with a nice looking cutscene/movie.



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I think that games like Pong and Tetris are just so fast paced, and generally keep your interest visually (these days anyway), that you don''t really stop to think "Gee, this game is pretty simple, and really doesn''t offer me anything beyond mindless repetitive gameplay." You just keep playing.. you just keep saying "I gotta get one more! One better! Just one more round!" I''m no psychology expert so I can''t tell you the scientific explanation, just that if your game is fast paced and offers the player a continual reward (even if that reward is in the form of a greater challenge) then you''re likely to get someone addicted to it. Make sure its not overly complex, throw in some cool visuals and cool theme music (if its a puzzle game, I prefer the adrenaline pumping, zombifying, new age techno score) and you''ll have a winner IMHO.

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The addicting factors of games are quite simple, I think. A game doesn''t even have to be that good or interesting to be addicting. Two things (that I can think of) that hook players are usually competition and/or progression. A game should make the player think that they are achieving something. Competition is just another form of this as kickin'' someones elses ass always gives the illusion of achievement.

True story: Several years ago, my mother had started playing Solitaire compulsively as she wanted to get lower times. Although I normally wouldn''t bother with something as cheesy as Solitaire, I was quite impressed with her record score of 58 seconds. I just hadda beat her time! So we would play constantly trying to beat eachother. When it was all said and done, she had broken her own record down to 52 seconds and I held the record of 48 seconds. This is a pretty good example of how something so simple can become addictive.

So, I''d say I like to see "numbers" and like it even more when I can compare my "numbers" to those of other players.

- Jay


[ Here, taste this ]

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Anything that makes the player stick with it to the point of senselessness. Constant feedback that eventually reaches the player at a primal level, I think.

It's like getting so used to the taste of sugar that you just keep eating it every now and then just to have it, and you don't really sense the taste of it anymore.

Starcraft is good for that. The music, the feedback of the units as they speak to you, the sounds of the buttons as you select actions, the combination of them all together, etc.

And I agree with the concept of progression. I think that's a natural part of it all. Without that, none of the other little bells and candies matter so much. After the sense of progression is achieved, everything else is a foreshadow to the sense of accomplishment that is to come.

[edited by - Waverider on May 5, 2003 5:32:07 PM]

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I think that allowing the player to build his skills either through real improvement or "level treadmills" is quite important.

The most obvious example I can give is Dance Dance Revolution.

Aaron In Japan''s DDR Page contains the combined dedication of hundreds of DDR players who have gone for making every step a Perfect and recieving the grade of "AAA." They already got through the initial challenge of "merely" passing every song on the hardest difficulty(something I, an avid player, haven''t quite done yet) - now they have additional goals and a reward for it.

For the two nonstop modes in the newest version, DDR EX, there is a timing above Perfect, "Marvelous," which is proported to lead to a AAAA. And undoubtedly, there will be players who will try to get them.

There are many games where I have similarly thrown myself at them in the quest for a 100%, finding every secret, every easter egg, every bug. It''s why unlocks and bonuses are continually getting more and more common.

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here is my 9 x 2 cents
note the following mostly refers to singple player.

what makes game addicting?

fewer repetition
game like pong will have no repetition, there is always abit different.

clear objective
u will want the user to know the objective well, feel free to force them to know the objective.

ergonomical control
lots people thinks fast paced game is addicting. it could be right, but what makes the player getting more excited without messing his key layout or controls? basicly u want to make user feel that the game is fast paced without turning a perfectly good turn based game into fast paced, by making selection menu easier faster, ergonomical, and have alot appropriate easy finger reaching keys (this is often ignored)

forced plays
u can force a player to play the game again or continue play next level, this is done by not having break between the previous level and next level. this is what player's logic: "finish the level, feeling great, game switch to next level, but u want to save the game and exit, however the level already loaded and started, then save and exit after this level"

intresting at the start of each level
the above method dont work well without an interesting starting of the next level. basic element can be an intro movie; a dialogue leaves a question mark etc.

do not give player "freedom"
this is serious, game might sound better if u allows more freedom, but it also gives u freedom of boredom, (i mean, a player might walking around killing same kind of monster to simply level up.

difficulty control
this is another thing that doesnt fit in logics. a player might want more challenge, but the real challenge for player is completion of the game. basicly u want to make it easy and long for rpg and rts and adventure, but hard and short for fps game with no specific story(quake)
of couse u want the player to play and complete the game, or ur ending is wasted. keep story based game easy.(in rpg, dont make bosses too strong, instead, make them like a tank, ridiculars amount of hp, average damage, dont make player scared to fight boss,(if they are scared, they will go back repeating level up causing boredom)

appropriate music
u want the music to be calmer, with low volunm even the game is very fast paced. because u want to make player focus on the game not the music.

endings
u should make multiple endings, especialy in long story games. different ending doesnt mean completly different, u can alter something like in the end, the main character killed his friend, the next ending could be: in the end, his friend killed him. it doesnt have to variy too much, as long as u advertises this game have x endings, player will alays happy to play again in different style and always happy to see another different ending.

i hope this helps u people.

[edited by - panzooka on May 6, 2003 10:31:30 AM]

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The answer, for me, is simple. I know it''s been said before, but the key to addiction is progression. The excact second a gamer fails to progress through a game, he stops playing, regardless of how beautiful the graphics are or how good the controls are. The player must be constantly made aware that he is improving for addiction to work. RPGs do this wonderfully with improving stats. In simple games like Pong or Mario, improved scores and improved playing skill are evident at any given second of play. In others, aquiring new skills, money, treasures, or entrance to new levels shows the gamer that they are accomplishing something. Hazard Ball has all these things, and that is why it is so addictive. Pong is addictive to some extent, but would you really play it for 100 hours like some people play RPGs? Pong has only a few of the addictive elements listed above; just enough to make it a classic.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Ok, this will probably not help you at all, but here is an
online game that really got me

http://glenn.sanson.free.fr/fb/play.html

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Progression is the key, but progression on multiple levels simultaneously is even better. That way, even though you might reach one ''goal'', you may be tempted to carry on because you have yet to reach another ''goal'' that is within sight. It''s like the old saying about books you just can''t put down - part of the key is in keeping the level of anticipation high and in not allowing for any boring breaks in the action.

eg. Diablo/MMORPGs - exploration is one measure of progress, level is another. You might get a new level when you''re half-way through clearing out a dungeon level, and think "ok, I''ll wait until I finish the dungeon level before I quit". Then, before you''re nearly done clearing the dungeon level, you find a cool piece of equipment, so you say "ok, I''ll wait until I get this identified before I quit". You clear the level, go back to town, get it identified and it''s expensive but worthless to you, so you think "ok, I''ll just sell it and then I''ll quit". You go and sell it and get a load of gold, but also see something new in the shop. (etc etc etc).

eg 2. Civilisation/Colonisation/Alpha Centauri/etc. All your cities have their own personal goals, and your units are often on their way to a certain area. Or you may have ongoing battles that span multiple turns. Not to mention research, or waiting for taxes to raise a certain amount of cash. In each case, you complete one of the minor goals, only to think about the next goal that is just a turn away. This happens almost every turn.

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