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JLW

Text documents and video briefings as a reward mechanic?

9 posts in this topic

I was planning on using text documents and video briefings animated within the game's engine as a reward tactic in my near future game idea. These would be found throughout the black forest and would be added to the player's database when recovered. The documents would range from magazine articles to newspaper clippings, military briefings and journal entries. The video briefings would be strictly military, and would come from sources such as Terratech and the major military forces involved in the conflict. (Europa, Russia and the American Republic.) Most of these would be serious in nature, but would usually have some sort of comedic element. (The Terratech briefings, for instance, are always interrupted before they finish by some sort of chaos breaking loose in the lab.)

 

I have a few questions for how to handle this mechanic properly.

 

1. Should these files be accessible to the player permanently, or just on that one save file? If the former, should it be accessible in new save files or only from the main menu and the saves it has been recovered in?

 

2. About how long should the files be? What about the video briefings? I'm less looking for an average here and more for an upper and lower limit.

 

3. How hard should they be to get? Should they be well-hidden Easter Eggs, should they practically rain from the sky, or something in between?

 

4. Obviously, the text documents are going to be more common, but this mean that the videos are harder to retrieve or simply fewer in number?

 

5. Are these good enough to serve as rewards on their own, or should they come with other rewards like items and currency?

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These are questions that a game designer should be answering him/herself, not asking everybody else. What you really need to ask, though, is the question you assumed an answer to: Does the player even care about these briefings and documents?

 

Let's say your game blows up, and it's a huge success. What happens to successful games? Every last second of the experience is recorded and up on youtube almost instantaneously. How much of a reward is it to get some video briefing, newspaper clip, or some other such piece of gameplay-extrinsic lore in the age of online videos and wikipedia? If I really want to know what happened in briefing #004, I'll go to youtube. It's certainly not going to be the difference between me playing your game for 5 more minutes or not.

 

If you want to reward the player for playing, reward him/her within the gameplay, not outside of it.

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These are questions that a game designer should be answering him/herself, not asking everybody else. What you really need to ask, though, is the question you assumed an answer to: Does the player even care about these briefings and documents?

 

Let's say your game blows up, and it's a huge success. What happens to successful games? Every last second of the experience is recorded and up on youtube almost instantaneously. How much of a reward is it to get some video briefing, newspaper clip, or some other such piece of gameplay-extrinsic lore in the age of online videos and wikipedia? If I really want to know what happened in briefing #004, I'll go to youtube. It's certainly not going to be the difference between me playing your game for 5 more minutes or not.

 

If you want to reward the player for playing, reward him/her within the gameplay, not outside of it.

The issue is that most of the time, players don't bother. They watch it if they find it, and if they like one they might go to youtube to re-watch it sometime later. Even watching all of them once you start is uncommon. The one circumstance I can see players watching videos they can't find.

 

Did you go to youtube to watch all of the "Get Rayman" videos in Hoodlum Havoc? Did you go to the wiki and read all of the notes from Fallout: New Vegas, or all the books in Oblivion? I sure didn't. I watched the videos, read all the notes and most of the books, but I never went outside the game because the moment I was out of the game, I was no longer interested. I'm certain I'm not alone in this.

 

Even if you're right, that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Every video that hits youtube is free promotion for the game. The videos there will catch the eye of people unfamiliar with the game. Every view, like and comment makes it appear higher on searches and increases the rate it is recommended on to users on the youtube homepage. So whether players search for them, just check out the ones they find out go to the internet and see them all it's my win.

 

EDIT:

Although yes, you are right to a certain extent and I will need to include other benefits. Maybe make watching the videos and reading the documents in game give a skill increase or similar benefit, like the books in The Elder Scrolls or the bobble-heads in Fallout 3? Yeah, I think I'll just do that.

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 Did you go to the wiki and read all of the notes from Fallout: New Vegas, or all the books in Oblivion? I sure didn't.

Going to the wiki to read stuff I missed from a FO/TES game? Ehhh... I would never do that... yeah... never *steps away nervously*

 

 

If what there is to discover, read, view, listen to, whatever is interesting and makes you crave for more, I'm all for it. Hell, even the Arkham Asylum record thingies got me hooked to the game trying to find them. And I could give a damn about the flags of Assansin's Creed for example, I'm not a "completionist". But things that have a history behind them? Something to uncover? Something to think about? I really like those kind of "collectibles". Just don't tell me that I'm missing 13 of the lost diaries of the dark knight thomas in a "Collectibles" screen when I didn't even knew he existed, that kinda kills the mood of it.

Edited by TheChubu
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Maybe make watching the videos and reading the documents in game give a skill increase or similar benefit, like the books in The Elder Scrolls or the bobble-heads in Fallout 3? Yeah, I think I'll just do that.

 

The problem is, the books and bobble heads were the rewards. You went looking for them. You got them. You got the boost. The only time I ever actually had to flip through the goddamn pages of the books in Skyrim was for a quest, or when I thought I might find a quest. But those are two different things: There were books that instantly gave you a stat boost, and couldn't be read; Then there were books that could only be read, and gave you a quest if you read them. In either case, the "reward" at least made appropriate sense. The bobble heads just gave you boosts; they were the reward.

 

You're trying to combine those into one. Why? One answer: You need to create a reason for the briefings/news clips to actually exist. When the reward only comes after you sit through the extra lore, it becomes the reason to sit through the extra lore, even though the briefing was probably hidden in some hard-to-reach area anyway. Which means they've already earned the reward just by finding it. But it isn't enough that the player found it. They have to let you tell them a story now, too.

 

All for what? As side-content, it is necessarily irrelevant to the main experience, so why would you make it actually have an effect on the main experience? Cuz?

Edited by Shaquil
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Maybe make watching the videos and reading the documents in game give a skill increase or similar benefit, like the books in The Elder Scrolls or the bobble-heads in Fallout 3? Yeah, I think I'll just do that.

 

The problem is, the books and bobble heads were the rewards. You went looking for them. You got them. You got the boost. The only time I ever actually had to flip through the goddamn pages of the books in Skyrim was for a quest, or when I thought I might find a quest. But those are two different things: There were books that instantly gave you a stat boost, and couldn't be read; Then there were books that could only be read, and gave you a quest if you read them. In either case, the "reward" at least made appropriate sense. The bobble heads just gave you boosts; they were the reward.

 

You're trying to combine those into one. Why? One answer: You need to create a reason for the briefings/news clips to actually exist. When the reward only comes after you sit through the extra lore, it becomes the reason to sit through the extra lore, even though the briefing was probably hidden in some hard-to-reach area anyway. Which means they've already earned the reward just by finding it. But it isn't enough that the player found it. They have to let you tell them a story now, too.

 

All for what? As side-content, it is necessarily irrelevant to the main experience, so why would you make it actually have an effect on the main experience? Cuz?

Who said you had to go all the way through it? You just have to activate it, like both of the examples. That leaves the text open and displayed, you don't have to go through it. The videos could be skipped and you'd get the reward anyway. If you don't feel like watching them, that's fine. Take your points, they're archived in the database if you feel like watching them later. The assumption is that your character went through it, even if you didn't, so they'll get the points anyway. You, obviously, would miss any practical tips the book or video might actually provide (like minigame instructions, or tactical advice) but that's the price of not going through it.

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5. Are these good enough to serve as rewards on their own, or should they come with other rewards like items and currency?

I don't think these are sufficient alone, as a player I find all videos/text more like a distraction that a reward (with very few exceptions). I want items and currency :)
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5. Are these good enough to serve as rewards on their own, or should they come with other rewards like items and currency?

I don't think these are sufficient alone, as a player I find all videos/text more like a distraction that a reward (with very few exceptions). I want items and currency smile.png

I ended up adding a stat boost for their use, but nothing says I can't do both.

Edited by Jeremy Williams
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Yes I would say - have a game advantage ( enablers to side missions??) of some kind (else players will just go find all of them on the internet if they are just 'interesting').

 

Consider that it is hard to create text/documents which are 'riveting' of themselves (or many of them)  MAny players will just see them as 'side' achievements

 

If they are hard go find/get then how much development effort would be put into creating them that many players wont see them (and maybe lose out on the fuller explanation in the story)..

 

If there is a reward as enabler to side stuff then that will also  gateway/impel  players into playing thru side areas which you put effort into creating  (and might make the game less linear seeming)

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Yes I would say - have a game advantage ( enablers to side missions??) of some kind (else players will just go find all of them on the internet if they are just 'interesting').

Well, most would be skill related. With the way the skill system works, that alone would make them extremely valuable.

Consider that it is hard to create text/documents which are 'riveting' of themselves (or many of them)  MAny players will just see them as 'side' achievements

I'm a good enough writer, the only real issue is scale.

If they are hard go find/get then how much development effort would be put into creating them that many players wont see them (and maybe lose out on the fuller explanation in the story)..

Given how small the overworld map is, I don't think it'd be possible to hide them well enough to give an observant player any trouble. The only issue would be the ones in the mission areas (the missions are separate spaces and are largely linear) that are only available during the mission. Those would just have to be obvious, or else they'll be really easy to miss.

If there is a reward as enabler to side stuff then that will also  gateway/impel  players into playing thru side areas which you put effort into creating  (and might make the game less linear seeming)

I can see that kind of thing being used, but for the most part I intended the documents to work as skill boosts. And them allowing the player to access things they wouldn't normally be able to is the whole point of those skills anyway.

 

"Hey, here's a locked door, but I can't pick locks. There's also a workbench I can't use. Wait, here's a book on repairing weapons, and now I can use the workbench to do that. I wonder if there's a book on picking locks as well." And thus, the search can begin before we're even out of the tutorial area. It would still be optional, but some of these skills (like the aforementioned repair) are really valuable.

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