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Motivation to play

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What would you consider, on a personal level, to be the best type of inspirations to fight, conquer, and adventure through a game? Here are some random ideas.. + Experience. Training. Money. Loot. Typical sandbox RPG motivators. + Rescue the princess (Mario). + Save the world from.. whatever (Fallout, Morrowind, Oblivion, Half Life, etc x 999). + Hero's friend/family has been captured (River City Ransom). + Discover your identity (Flashback). + Solve a mystery (Deja Vu). + Rule the world (Civilization). + Rise in stature, honor, or fame (Fable). + Survival (Resident Evil). + Revenge (My own reasons for enjoying Civilization IV). For me, I would say that personal motivators are the most involving. Something that directly concerns the player character, and not something the player character just happens to fall into or be recruited for. Unfortunately (for me), most games seem to go with the latter. My favorite motivation game would probably be Deus Ex 1. The plot revolved directly around J.C. Denton, and totally pushed the gameplay forward. If your answer is something like "to unfold the story", it would be more interesting to hear what type of story motivates you most.

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I found the MGS4 story the most motivating. I really liked the whole PMC idea, with the world changing for the worse, and the player needing to save it. Yes, sounds tacky when put that way, but it was an awesome story. I found that fighting something that is all powerful over everyone seemed to be very rewarding. I guess also have the player against something they will either feel hate for, or just find kind of creapy, such as the nanomachines in MGS4.

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I'm a little confused by the question because the real motivator to play games is that chemical feedback loop of mastery and reward. What you've mentioned are the story elements that dress up that feedback loop. I really don't mind the story elements as long as the feedback is there.

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Original post by Pete Michaud
I'm a little confused by the question because the real motivator to play games is that chemical feedback loop of mastery and reward.

Then which type of gameplay effect creates chemical feedback that is most effective for motivation? If it's to master your character or obtain loot and treasure, then you've already answered the question.

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What you've mentioned are the story elements that dress up that feedback loop. I really don't mind the story elements as long as the feedback is there.

Not all of the motivators I mentioned were related to a story. The story can be a big part of the motivation, all of it, or entirely excluded from it. I never play games to unfold the story, but aspects of the story can get me more involved with the gameplay.

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I have always liked the games that give you some choice on the storyline. I like to place my emotions/morals on the character and see where the game takes me. If I can have that, saving the princess or the world is little difference. I would love to play a game where there is clearly two opposing factions derived from some ethical/political issue and have the storyline weave you between the two depending on the choices you make and where you fail/succeed.

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World building is a big draw for me. It doesn't have to be Civ scale. Even stupid little things like helping to control the shape of a town, as in Morrowind, tells me that I've had at least some impact on the virtual world.

I'm also a big "save the world" fan, but I share your Civ motivation, too. If AI isn't really too one dimensional, it's very satisfying to knock down the world's thugs for what they did three or four turns ago. However, I'm not so sure I *like* being motivated this way-- for me it's very viceral and primitive feeling when I'm trying to be all noble and high minded (as in, "They did what?! I'll nuke the bastards! Oh, wait, I'm supposed to be the good guy...")

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I'd rather avoid revenge and survival. Fame in Fable is stupid, but I could get into it if it had more functional rewards, like the system of faction reputation in WoW only developed further. Similarly I could get into ruling the world if it wasn't just a title but actually had new abilities gained from conquering each area. I'm really quite tired of saving the world and rescuing people, although a good writer thinking outside the box could still use them in some way that I would like. For example I would like a time loop sort of game where events went badly the first time you lived through them and now it's your job to make sure things turn out differently. Loot again is mostly cool if it is useful or convertable into money, and money is only useful if there are fun things to buy with it, and experience and training are only useful if they let you fight harder enemies with new loot. Mystery and discover identity I consider to be basically the same thing. I like setups where the worldbuilding is the mystery (why am I here? where the heck is here? why is magic suddenly happening? how can I do magic? what goals can I accomplish and roles can I play in this world? how was the past of this world different from the present and what made it change? what will the future of this world be and how can I affect it?)

Overall of the ones listed I like most of them if done well, but in most games they tend to be done badly. A lot of my favorite story activities to do in games aren't mentioned in the original post, so I'll list them:

+ Building and rebuilding (Harvest Moon, Azure Dreams, SimCity) I love turning a field of rubble into a thriving ecosystem. This is a combination of climbing a tech tree, completing sets, earning money to buy tools and upgrades, and fixing NPCs problems so they will help you in turn or will take up their proper role in the ecosystem rather than some dysfunctional one they started with.

+ Breeding (Invisible Bugs, Fish Tycoon, Creatures, dragoturkey breeding in Dofus) I like doing experiments, figuring out the laws of genetics used in the game, discovering mutants and cooler higher forms, and breeding one of every possible creature type for a checklist. This is just another type of climbing a tech tree but I mention it specifically because I like the pacifistic, experimantal nature of it and people tend to forget about it.

+ Completing sets and areas - I love games which have a finite number of monsters per area so you can actually kill them all, converting the area into a safe zone (where NPCs may appear). I love having checklists of items to find or problems to fix and getting a reward when I complete them. This can however be done in a bad way if finding the things that need to be done is random, if you have to do really obnoxious tasks like difficult timing/dexterity challenges, or if the tasks are stupid money sinks (donate X gold, go buy me a Y)

+ Romancing or otherwise using your words and actions to manipulate what NPCs think, feel, and do; and this shouldn't be a vague sim-like activity or sandboxy thing, it should be specific in-story optional goals, like 'getting' characters in a dating sim, making two arguing characters reconcile in an RPG, deciding how to respond if an NPC captures you and tries to blackmail you or force you to marry them or invites you to join their side, wearing a disguise and fooling an NPC, matchmaking between two NPCs, maybe even cultivating the respect of an arch nemesis.

+ Building my avatar's identity through building their relationships and faction reputation, customizing their appearance, earning money, titles, and loot for them, basically mastering the world and fixing all its problems and doing so with style, ethics, strategic intelligence, and creative problem solving.

+ Puzzles - I just like these inherently, especially adventure game style ones. The only thing I object to is if solving a puzzle causes something bad to happen.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
If AI isn't really too one dimensional, it's very satisfying to knock down the world's thugs for what they did three or four turns ago. However, I'm not so sure I *like* being motivated this way-- for me it's very viceral and primitive feeling when I'm trying to be all noble and high minded (as in, "They did what?! I'll nuke the bastards! Oh, wait, I'm supposed to be the good guy...")

That might be what I like most about it. I sit around, peacefully managing my little civilization, and here comes Montezuma and Genghis Khan, making threatening demands, which I totally ignore. A few turns later, they're both burning down my farms and killing my people. A few more turns later, I'm turning my peaceful citizens into spearman and knights. The fact that the game manages to anger me is why I love it so much. On the other hand, I've also learned that I would never want to be in control of a real country's military.

Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Overall of the ones listed I like most of them if done well, but in most games they tend to be done badly.

I just wanted to mention that my list was in no way meant to be comprehensive. I only spent a few moments considering those, to serve as an example of the type of motivation I was getting at. But in any case, your list is far better, and nicely detailed.

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How about just the simple fun of toying around with a particular game mechanic?

Games like Katamari Damacy and Portal hook me in just with thier focus on an innovative gameplay mechanic. I could care less about the stories, its like getting some unique toy and being a kid again.

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Original post by MSW
How about just the simple fun of toying around with a particular game mechanic?

Games like Katamari Damacy and Portal hook me in just with thier focus on an innovative gameplay mechanic. I could care less about the stories, its like getting some unique toy and being a kid again.

See, the portal toy didn't hook me that way. Personally, I prefer sub machine guns. It was actually the wacko cake-serving computer entity that kept me playing. I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on in that place, or why there were no people in the monitoring stations. The puzzles were interesting, and the toy was fun, but it was curiosity that motivated me the most.

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