Thursday, June 21, 2012

Measuring Success for Games

Since we're talking about MMOs lately, Guild Wars 2 has a good read. Now, I understand Johanson's point at making the grind of subscription based MMOs sound as terrible as they are. But, realistically, people are not going to plug away at their dailies and progression if they do not find it fun. Some people may choose to suffer a certain amount of indignity, provided the rest of the game is fun.

But, it does ask a really good question: "If we chose fun as our main metric for tracking success, can we flip the core paradigm and make design decisions based on what we’d like to play as game players?"
He mentions Quest for Glory, and I can concur with that. It was fun. Lots of games from the 90s were just fun to play. Building characters was fun, designing a party was fun and adventuring was fun. It is a noble goal to try and make fun the core metric for your game's success.

To make their game fun, they're doing some things that World of Warcraft learned through the years: "Every time you finish a dungeon you get tokens you can trade in for reward items that you want, rather than having a small chance of getting it as a drop, because it’s more fun to always get rewarded for finishing with something you want to have!" Justice points are great! This is a good lesson for games: Reward us with currency to get the rewards we want. It's a good system, MOBAs have been using it since I started playing League of Legends, if not earlier.

When they talk about everyone contributing and being able to benefit or gather from the same resource nodes, it warms my heart a little. MMOs are cooperative games at their heart, and I find it more fun to be on the same team. Sue me, warm fuzzies are fun.

Now, all of what he says is well and good for MMOs. But, what about table top designs? People like different things, even down to the type of game they want to play. Some people like cerebral, thinking man's games like chess or Magic. Other people prefer big, flashy, swingy gameplay. Part of this is defining your audience, like you would for any product or message you want to get out. But, I think part of it goes back to what I quoted up top: We should make design decisions based on what we'd like to play.

The same is true for writing. I write things I want to read. Not very well, mind you, but I write about the things that interest me. I think that should be the guiding principle for any creative endeavor. Yes, you may have to do yeoman's work churning out articles or other stuff to make rent. But, you know what? Write those things in a way you would want to read about it. I may be a nerd, but I realistically enjoyed editing the tax articles I edited; my internship with the Navy was probably the closest to real history I've ever done and it was lovely.

So, for the next writing challenge, once I wrap up this story, I am going to work on a sword and sorcery fantasy story. Because I like good sword and sorcery stories, so, I should write them. Even if they are not good. The current estimation is that this story should wrap up in draft form next week. After that, we'll roll right into a new story.

He will not be a character in the story.



The last few days have been exceptionally ramble-y and random. Next week, we'll be back to having coherent themes and blog arcs. Primarily: Making sure your players are having fun.

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