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What's more addictive: Endless gameplay or make progress one level at a time?

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By endless gameplay I mean the type of endless runners etc out there, you start from the beginnning, things get harder and harder and you try to survive for as long as you can, and beat your own highscore.

 

By progress-games I mean the type of "Saga"-games where you clear on level at a time and get 1-3 stars for it, then move on to the next level (with full life).

 

I've created an endless-type-of-game but I think I miss the progress part of it (called Carpet Bombing, on Android). If you don't make progress there are only so many times you want to try and beat your highscore before you get bored. And it's tedious to always start with the easy part once you have mastered the game. So I was thinking of adding another game mode, "saga"-style. Still, there are plenty of successful endless games out there, for example Crossy Road, that seem to make it work.

 

Any thoughts?

Edited by PawnEater

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I personaly prefer endless type of games over level-type. Altough level-type allow a more clear progression, the endless type is more engaging, especially if you are fond of beating high-score.

 

And it's tedious to always start with the easy part once you have mastered the game

 

Good point, I played a few games who had a store you could access between each try. You could spent the point you earned in previous try to unlock power-up or item. In the case of a 'go as far as you can' type of game. (like burrito bison (dat example....))

 

This mechanic works well with the genre. For each try you will go a little further than previous try, meaning more points to buy better item which help you go further, meaning the next try you will go even further, etc...

 

This mechanics also prevent the tedious start, as some bonus item allow the player to skip the first part, like a super rocket.

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I personally prefer the level type because the gameplay has to actually change a little every dozen levels, unless it has substantial variation in level generation.  I also like hybrids of the two - have you played Vasebreaker Endless?  It's a minigame included with Plants vs. Zombies 1.  It's one of those games where each time you defeat a level you automatically get a new slightly harder one.  You will always eventually lose but the goal is to get a new personal high score.

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I think I prefer levels to endless games. If a game is endless by design then effectively I'm the one that decides where the end actually is. And it's likely it's going to be somewhere around when I feel like I get the general idea of the game and I'm not expecting anything new. I might try a bit to beat my own high score but when it feels like I've hit a pretty good ceiling, I'm done.

 

I think the thing about Crossy Road is that it has a number of unlockable characters and environments and this is what keeps players going. When the character is something that the player feels is humorous or is something that invokes some kind of nostalgic or cultural connection, I think the sense of reward of unlocking that character and potentially striving for the next one keeps people going more than trying to beat their last high score. As such, I don't think the unlock even occurs at the successful completion of some gameplay element and maybe is more tied to how long the player has been playing. (Woo hoo! I unlocked that character that looks suspiciously like that one in that cartoon I used to watch in my youth. I need to unlock his companion now to complete the set. Oh hey, here's one that's supposed to be the president, I have to get that one too. Maybe just a bit longer...)

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Thanks for all the comments. So basically some people prefer level-type, others endless types. Kseh, I think you are right about the characters that keep people going. Definiately something to learn from if you are making an endless game.

 

This got me thinking, why not both? One endless game mode, and one where you clear level by level (and heal between each). In the level selection screen, choose from any level you have cleared (+ 1 new), or choose the endless game mode. Would that work?

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This got me thinking, why not both? One endless game mode, and one where you clear level by level (and heal between each). In the level selection screen, choose from any level you have cleared (+ 1 new), or choose the endless game mode. Would that work?

 

This could be a solution, but, for it to work each level should be different enough and bring something new (a different theme, mechanics, etc...). Else why having different levels, if you can see everything the game as to offer in the endless mode of the first level?

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This got me thinking, why not both? One endless game mode, and one where you clear level by level (and heal between each). In the level selection screen, choose from any level you have cleared (+ 1 new), or choose the endless game mode. Would that work?

 

This could be a solution, but, for it to work each level should be different enough and bring something new (a different theme, mechanics, etc...). Else why having different levels, if you can see everything the game as to offer in the endless mode of the first level?

 

 

In my game I have three level types and five types of enemies (yes not many). I was thinking of introducing one enemy type each level, and cycle the level type (grass, beach, city). Once you hit level 6, you will play with all enemy types and the only thing that is different is that there are more and more enemies each level (making it harder). Of course, it would be better if you could introduce even more level types and enemy types but that takes time to draw and implement. So in that sense, an endless game may require less work to implement.

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its a matter of personal taste.

 

 

 

I was thinking of introducing one enemy type each level, and cycle the level type

 

you can have you cake and eat it too!

 

make it level based. when you run out of levels and units, switch over to "endless mode" 

 

 

 

So in that sense, an endless game may require less work to implement.

 

correct.

 

i did a realtime wargame called "Armies of Steel".   if you turned on one #define in the source code, it created "Combat Zone", a realtime arcade wargame with levels. Each level introduced new unit types or terrain types. The game had 20 levels. When you got to level 20. you were playing the most basic scenario in Armies of Steel.

 

some games (like pinball) are more suited to "high score" type play. many are not.  

 

on the other hand, SIMTrek / SIMSpace (a star trek flight sim) is actually a "high score" game - complete as many missions as possible without failing 3 mission total (3 strikes you're out - reassigned to shore duty).  there high score doesn't get dull because its a strategic game of energy management inside a 3d flight sim in a living open gameworld.

 

" high score" is a simple kind of goal. if the game is kind of simple as well, it will get old quick.

 

also, best possible high score is a single unchanging goal that the player approaches asymptotically but never quite reaches.  

 

the fact that its just a single unchanging goal might be why it gets old fast. one you've got the hang of the game, you don't make much progress on improving your top score.

 

the randomness in pinball may be why it works well there. no matter how good you are, luck can still mean the difference between a gutter ball and 1,000,000 points. so you never know if the next quarter you drop will be the best game of your life. sort of like playing slots: "just -  one - more -pull !.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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I think it somewhat depends on the complexity of the game and on its controls, but I think levels keep it entertaining for a lot longer. Both can be enjoyable but levels definitely add a bit more variety and keeps things relatively fresh.

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They both have their settings, Tetris benefits from it's escalation, but Pushmo is great too.

It's more about what fits your game than an arbitrary choice.

There's also the roguelike choice, like Rogue Legacy, each retry offers slightly more power and escalation, and procedural generation mixes elements to remain fresh.

Even in endless gameplay, you could have scheduled changes that serve as progress indicators and grab attention.

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