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Playing off of Commonly Addictive Traits?

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I was just wondering what you guys thought about Game Developers intentionally "playing off of" or associating their games with commonly addictive traits such as level progression, item and unit upgrading systems, currency accumulation, etc. I was wondering partially because I've been contemplating creating or sketching out the skeleton for a game that was steeped heavily in such traits, and partially because I simply wanted to know your thoughts as to which implementation methods within games (be it obvious or non-obvious) have worked the best throughout the years in the gaming industry. Also, do you see adding such traits into a game so blatantly as a sort of cop out for not implementing more innovative features? I wanted to create something that was fun to play, but not simply because it was based so obviously in something that was meant to be addicting. ABRIDGED: Do you think the implementation of addictive traits within video games is used as a cop out for not creating more innovative features or design? What do you think were the most successful examples of implementation of said traits in the gaming industry, be it modern or vintage?

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I don't think a game should be faulted for containing mechanics that are enjoyable. Innovation is nice, but sometimes you want to play something that has familiar, comfortable characteristics. Overall it's the end experience that counts.

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I just feel as though most of a general demographic (be it consumers or advertisers) would see it as main feature that though is attended to be there for gameplay longevity, as sort of taking advantage of human nature by simply applying a hook to your game that allows it to be addicting, and making money off of it. I do realize that from far away what I'm trying to say is borderline crazy, seeing as every (good) game has some sort of hook to make you play it however many times, but I'm just wondering if people would simply make a big deal out of it if I were to implement almost all well-known addictive features into one game such as:

  • Level Progression
  • Gear Advancement (Self-Explanatory)
  • Unit Advancement (Small sub-level progression for units such as rank that supply them with better weapons or other advantages in a fight)
  • Currency Accumulation (Say, everytime you kill a unit, you gain a certain amount of spendable currency that allows you to upgrade certain abilities for certain units, much as a real-time strategy game would.)

Or if they would simply be passive features that everyone enjoyed without questioning as to why it was there.

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I doubt anyone would even notice that it was so-called addictive, let alone criticize (although you'd probably get praise on that point if it was good, like Civilization's "just one more turn"). Everything is going to depend on how you put these elements in, and how they work with each other. You're not guaranteed to have a game people want to keep playing just because these elements exist, and even if this mix is right for some players it won't be right for others (some may consider it a hassle to upgrade everything).

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I don't think anyone would fault you by intentionally trying to make your game addictive. In fact I can pretty much guarantee you that every company out there is trying to achieve this exact goal. Trouble is, execution is everything. Level progression is only fun if the way to achieve the goal is fun. Then item accumulation and upgrade is another layer of complexity. Making it too hard to achieve items will frustrate players and too easy, will make it seem pointless. Getting everything just right is the hard part.

Some developers are given, or allow themselves the luxury of time to figure this out, while others are forced to deliver on schedule and may or may not have solved these problems.

My answer to the original question?

It's only a cop-out if YOU use it as a cop-out. There's no better way to add depth to an innovative feature than by incorporating tried and true mechanics to keep players hooked.

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I think it all depends on what kind of game you are working on and how well it meshes with the other features and gameplay.

X-Men Legends used all these things (leveing, power-up items, etc.), but it would've worked fine without it. I think it had all these things simply because it was tapping into that Gaunlet genre. But the game in itself had already moved so far away from the genre, that leveling/power-ups felt a little out of place.

What's the point of leveling up characters in a progressive-level game anyways? That's like having Mario increase in level.

Another gimmick that is addictive, but out of place if used improperly, is collecting stuff-- like Sonic collecting rings or Mario collecting coins. In those games they used these coins/rings to give extra lives to whomever grabs 100. But what's the point of having these if you have infinite continues? A lot of generic 3D platformers of the 90's had these. Annoying... as... hell.

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This topic is 3193 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

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