Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
DinofarmGames

IGNORE the expectation to perpetually add content!

This topic is 2507 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

This is a post about the pattern of "perpetually adding extra content to a game post-release". We, game developers, are expected by the gaming community in general to degrade our games. This is the situation we are currently in.

Firstly, I have to explain that I am not a believer in the “more is more” philosophy. I believe that just as a good film has only the scenes it needs to tell its story and nothing more; just as a good poem has only the words it needs to make its point and nothing more; a good game has only the mechanics and content it needs to express its gameplay.

While I know that I’m in the vast minority when it comes to the subject of modern digital games on that point, I’m in a very solid majority when you look at other types of games throughout history, and when you consider the very concept of “design” in general. Everyone knows that the more steps in your plan, the more moving parts in your machine, the more of a chance it has of breaking down.

In short: you cannot simply just keep “adding stuff” to a game and have it retain its solid fidelity. There is a point with every game where adding one more monster, one more gun, one more playable class is too much. This may not entirely break the game, but it does degrade it. The quality and significance of each decision is slightly diminished, the identity of elements blurred.

I wrote about this in full over at my site: http://www.dinofarmgames.com/?p=739

What do you guys think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
I have to disagree with the idea that gamers expect a developer to "perpetually adding extra content to a game post-release". What I do think they expect is some form of support after release (understandable with the state games are often released in) and that a successful game should have some sort of expansion (or DLC now) at some point after release. The latter may be what you're alluding to but honestly I see no issue with it. Games take a long time to develop and expansions are an effective way to bridge the 3+ year long gap between a game and its sequel. The importance of it should not be underestimated or ignored by developers just because players expect it or out of fear of it breaking a well designed game. A decent developer should be able to create a fun and compelling expansion that would not break the original design of the game but improve it. If this added content does indeed degrade your game then it is because you did it wrong and not that you merely added something to it.


There are some genres that do require the developer to perpetually add content but that is down to the expectation that a player will play it over the span of several years. At that point it is reasonable that you are expected to add more to the game and not leave it as is. You use TF2 as an example of a game that has gone too far but I ask you, would you still expect the vast majority of people to keep playing it this long after release without these additions? I'm going to jump the gun and say that even if you would the vast majority would not leaving TF2 in the same position as say BF2, outside of the die hard fans most would occasionally break it out at a LAN party but for the most part no one gives it a seconds thought. Even with all this added it is important to point out that it is still possible for someone to play TF2 in "vanilla" mode if they still wish to.


It's also important not to forget the impact of allowing players to add their own content to the game where possible. The games that live longer than expected lives are those, more often than not, that gave players the power to create their own content. Even if a developer doesn't add content I feel it is important for them to allow players to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't agree that the community always expects for a game to keep gaining extra content. I think that depends entirely on the developer's objective with each game. Minecraft, Terraria, WoW, perhaps are games of which we expect content to be added. LIMBO on the other hand is not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think that the whole paradigm of 'perpetually adding content' is a tool that can be used for good or bad. There are some real benefits for the developer and the player.

  • It prevents some wasted time/content/money. If you go content-light with your release and allow for extra content post-release, you can find out if people really like the game before dedicating a lot of resources for extra content. This can also help the player, as they can invest in only the 'core' game and not waste money on the added content if they don't like it.
  • Some genres lend themselves well to episodic content and can bring renewed joy similar to reading a trilogy of books or watching a series of TV shows. This might apply to anything that is story-driven and less reliant on gameplay mechanics.
  • In the reality of software development, you often have to scrap many ideas/features that you want in your game in order to release "Version 1.0". These features may actually improve gameplay and would be valuable to players.

    While there can definitely be cases of added content having little value to the player, or degrading the gameplay, it seems pretty idealist to expect that every game completely nail the content and gameplay 100% within a single release.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TF2 is *not* in the same position as BF2. BF2 has had some 19 sequels released since then.

Also, I agree with the "expansion" type model, but it has to be elective. In a multiplayer game it's like even if you dont use all the new guns, other people will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TF2 is *not* in the same position as BF2. BF2 has had some 19 sequels released since then.


That was my point. TF2 currently isn't like BF2 but it could have been if they had taken the approach you advocate. BF2 had one expansion and two DLC style downloads, if TF2 has done a similar system or even stayed vanilla (bar any bug/balance fixes) it would most assuredly be in the same position BF2 was 5 years after its release, fondly remembered but rarely played. In response developers would most likely have taken the BF2 approach of sequels as a way to gain more money from the franchise. Now yes this is all conjecture, we will never know what could have happened, but the point still stands that TF2 is better off from those additions made to it (from a design and business point of view) than if they had never made them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My point is, BF2 is rarely played because DICE has released so many new games in the same line since then. If BF2 was still the latest BF game, it would be played much, much more than it is now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My point is, BF2 is rarely played because DICE has released so many new games in the same line since then. If BF2 was still the latest BF game, it would be played much, much more than it is now.

No it wouldn't be, because it would have been long ago surpassed by competing games.

Games become outdated over time, and one cannot expect the competition to stand still. You have two choices: produce new games (i.e. the 'sequel' model), or upgrade your existing game (the 'TF2 model').

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I know this is a shocker to video-game people, but a truly great game never ever becomes "outdated". Will Chess ever be outdated? Soccer? Tennis? Go? Tetris?

It seemed to me that Team Fortress 2 was aspiring to that kind of a timeless height with their design, at first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anything gets boring if you play it long enough, except for those few people who truly love the game in question.

Most of us play chess enthusiastically for a year years, and then it sort of tails off to a few matches each year. A few people love it enough to make a lifelong hobby or even a career out of chess, but those people are very much in the minority.

The rest of us move onto another game, and another one after that...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!