Friday, 14 February 2014

Experience and Replay-ability

Going back to my last post, I kept on saying that new experiences are why we enjoy certain pieces of entertainment. However some readers may be thinking that, if this was true, why we enjoying replaying games multiple times. Well there are three things that can variate each time a player plays through a game. These three things give us a new experience of a game each time we play, and hence gives a game replay ability.

Depth of story, game play and mechanics is the first of this trio, coming in the form of many different things. Some good examples of game depth can be found in games such as Donkey Kong 64, where players have a wealth of collectibles to attempt for, giving the player a lot to do even tough most of them are not needed to complete the game. Another good example of game depth is Risk of Rain as players can play though the game with an entirely different set of moves and ability's each time. Lastly, Knights of the Old Republic allows you to take control of the story to a extent. This gives the player an option to try something else story wise next time they play. Collectibles, story forks, and game mechanic changes all give the player a sense of depth to the game they are playing.

Next we have player skill and challenge. This is where, as the player gets better at the game, they want tougher more varied challenges to keep them learning how to play better. This is in most games as a basic difficulty selection, but there is also some games that have a creative way of handle this. Dark Souls has a lot of features that ether teach the player or reward the player for their skill and knowledge. A player of dark souls will struggle the first time they play the game, but as players get better at the game and learn more about how the game works, options open up to try things differently on a second play through. Allowing the player to learn your games skills and strategies, and appropriately challenging them as they get better give the player a sense of achievement for each step they take.

Finally, we have multiplayer. Just allowing a game to be played with friends, adds variance to a players experience. No one plays games the same, so each player has a different strategy or skill in terms of games. This works great for games where players play against each other, as each player will have their own strategy, but will have to adapt it to defeat there opponent. This works the same way when players collaborate towards a common goal, just instead of adapting a strategy against other players, they adapt to work with other players. A good example player verses player is the Street Fighter series, where players choose characters, and try and adapt their characters strengths and weaknesses against the other players character to be the first to a set amount of damage. on the cooperative side there is Left 4 Dead, where some players might be better as a sniper, and some as a shot-gunner and you build your teams strategy for moving through the levels from that. Allowing a player to play with or against others allows them to exercise critical thinking as each scenario is unique.

Depth, Learnability, and Sociability are the three words we need to use when designing our games if we want them to join the classics.

**After writing this I recently watched a video that had some surprising similarity to what I'm talking about, but is more about what we need from games. Check it out, its quite interesting.**

So lets break down a game which has, to some people, unlimited replay ability, League of Legends.
League of Legends (aka LoL) falls into all three of our key areas for replay ability, so lets start with Depth and work our way from there. LoL has a number of characters, which all have their own selection of abilities, strengths and weaknesses. The list of characters and their various costumes are the players collectibles, the player earns more the more they play or the more they spend (more on monetization later). These feed into the games depth, as players feel there is so much to do. Next we have Leanability, the ability to learn and progress as a player. Players have a range of items they can buy during the game, allowing them to choose a strategy they think will be the best for them. The more they know, the more they can strategize about what items to buy. Each character has a selection of abilities players have to use at the right time, with the right aim to be effective. Each opposing character has a selection of abilities as well but unless the player knows how to best handle situations with enemy characters, they will end up losing combats. These are the elements of skill and strategy that players have to exercise during each game. Finally we have Sociability, the variety of playing with or against other players. Players both play in a team, and against another team, with both teams having an equal chance to win at the beginning of the game. Team composition is important, so having a team that covers all roles and is full of characters which work well together is important. When playing against certain item strategies, appropriate purchases from the shop can give players a upper hand. Working well as a team to out maneuver the opponent can cause your team to gain the upper hand. These elements are why the game works well with multiple people, and give players unique experiences each game.

I believe limited replay ability is why second hand games are so easy to come by now days. Hopefully developers can see this point in the future, instead of blaming bad sales on second hand sales. Not an easy fix but certainly one that can prevent a lot of bad press. This i just an opinion though and i would like to hear your thoughts. See you on Monday!

No comments:

Post a Comment