Addiction V.S. Fun

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by SpicyNoodleStudios, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    With general hatred for things like loot boxes these days, the idea of mechanics that are hard to put down but not actually fun to play must be considered.

    Do you think there is a difference between a game that is addicting because it is fun and enjoyable, and a game that is addicting simply because it's addicting, and no other reason?

    What would some examples be of an addicting mechanic that isn't fun versus an enjoyable mechanic that is fun?

    I'll start with the obvious one. Loot boxes as a mechanic that is only addicting, versus loot while exploring dungeons that promotes gameplay and having fun.
     
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  2. NinjaKittyProductions

    NinjaKittyProductions Professional Murder Hobos Veteran

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    Trying to find the best equipment in an rpg can also be one of those things that people find addicting but not necessarily fun, especially if the equipment is absolutely needed to complete the game. These people are typically called MinMaxers.
     
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  3. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    Is that in the same vein as people who grind for crafting material?
     
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  4. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    Ugh! Grinding! I hate when you have to grind to continue. Grinders started grinding to get ahead in RPG's, then developers started making RPG's where you HAVE to grind to continue. And then on map encounters started appearing to compat this
     
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  5. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    Is there any way grinding could be fun to you? I would agree that I don't usually love grinding, but I've played RPG's where I didn't hate it, either.
     
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  6. NinjaKittyProductions

    NinjaKittyProductions Professional Murder Hobos Veteran

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    I would say so. Take World of Warcraft for instance. You have to grind mining, fishing, gathering, etc., just so you can make gear that allows you to be raid ready. I have hardly ran into anyone that enjoys getting on for hours at a time and just go around a gather materials just to make 1 of 10 pieces of gear needed.

    I would say that grinding can be fun if the combat itself is intuitive and not something that just drags down gameplay. In you are adding combat just for the sake of extending the playtime of your game, you are doing something wrong... just my opinion. Of course there are exceptions to rules, such as dungeon delving games that are about exploring and fighting.
     
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  7. BK-tdm

    BK-tdm Manga Maker Veteran

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    Well grinding in world of warcraft had some nice side rewards too, i grinded fishing for hours so i could fish up the sea turtle mount, something you can only get by fishing and its a bragging rights reward, grinding can be fun if you're into minmaxing (getting the best affixes on a drop in diablo for example), achievement hunting (people who only consider done with a game when they have all the trophies/achievements), or just because, i kept grinding on phantasy star universe because i liked killing stuff just because, and using my top geared character to overpower the stupid critters that used to give me hell was a fun experience (lets call this "revenge grinding"?), not everyone is into grinding for the sake of it thought, but it has its audience.

    Also they're called "surprise mechanics" sir, lootbox is a bad term:rwink:.
     
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  8. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Addicting that is not fun:
    • if you're forced to abuse the game system in order to min-max the game.
    • If you feel obligated to do stuff in-game (e.g, log in every day to get the reward, or simply being active players. Mobile games do this a lot).
    Addicting that is fun:
    • You drag your friend to play the game together, like playing Dota together.
    • You spend your time in-game, not realizing the sun rises (I had to ban a certain game because of this).
    • You're curious what you gonna see next in the game, either unlockable contents or simply the story.
    It's very subjective varies from person to person. People are saying that grinding is not fun, except the game is intended to play in a session, I usually refuse to play the game if it does not have a grinding/progressive system, which I led me to think it's actually fun.
     
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  9. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Here's how I tend to define the two. It's fairly easy, if a little obtuse.

    Fun
    I want to play the game for the sake of relaxing. Unwinding. Getting closer to the end. Enjoying the story. Enjoying the world.

    Addiction
    I want to play the game even when I know it won't relax me. The gameplay loops feel more like an obligation than having fun. Grind. Random Loot. Some goal for bragging rights that nobody cares about except other players who wish they had your reward so they can stop doing the thing they have to do to get it. Playing the game feels like a second job that I am not getting paid to do.

    ---

    In general, most games have felt like Addiction to me rather than Fun. Let's put that in perspective a little bit:

    Call of Duty Black Ops 4
    Every single time I play this game, it feels like a grind. A grind to the next level for the next set of unlocks. A grind of trying to complete random, obtuse, or luck based side objectives to earn calling cards that have nothing to do with skill. A grind of getting enough kills with a specific weapon to make it better and more overpowered. A grind of playing a game where death by random guy spawning behind you is the normal occurance and nothing you do really feels all that skilled... instead it often feels like you're killing players not paying attention, killed players who were distracted... killed players who weren't looking at you... or killed players who just had a gun with a longer TTK than you. Playing this game for me is good for 1 or 2 rounds at a time, and then I'm off to do something else. Even if I have a good game.

    Left 4 Dead 2
    Back in the heyday of this game, I enjoyed it. You won nothing except rounds or games. No leaderboards to track you. No ranks to gain. You played as Zombies because it was fun to grief players trying to complete the level... and it was fun to play as Humans in order to just shut down Zombie teams trying to grief you. You got nothing out of this except the fun of trying to outwit and surprise the other team. I enjoyed this immensely. I played with my friends religiously. I even got the nickname "Ninja Boomer" as I could cover all the survivors in my bile and usually get away to do it again. My record was 8 spews before they finally killed me. I got no achievement for this. I got no recognition except from my two closest friends who played with me. I got no props from the lobby. I got no players to be annoyed with my skill over it. I got nothing... except the fun of hitting them with my attack and managing to escape to do it again. My friends and I would load it up every weekend to play. Winning games... losing games... it didn't matter unless we were rofl-stomped or were winning so badly that the other team was routinely quitting out. There was a certain level of joy from hitting a player across the map from an insane distance as a pouncing Hunter. A certain level of joy from pulling players off ledges or into exposed locations with a Smoker. A certain level of joy from timing a melee punch at the right time as a player to stop a Smoker Tongue dead in its tracks and keep it from pulling you. A certain level of joy from having your entire team make it to the safe house at the end of the level as a survivor because everyone worked together fantastically.
    ---
    You can see the difference here. To make any sort of progress in Call of Duty Black Ops 4, I need to adopt the game as a second job. Live, eat, and breathe the game.

    To make any sort of progress in Left 4 Dead 2... I needed only to show up, play the game, and try to outsmart the other team. Nothing to earn. Nothing to gain. Just solid gameplay that was inherently fun all on its own.

    One of these games was full of laughter while the other was not.

    Let's compare a couple MMO's I've played.

    Runescape
    By far, this is the MMO I've played the longest. Everything in it is a grind. But, early on, that grind used to mean something. It wasn't a status symbol like it is now (nor so easy to obtain). If you have Level 50 smithing, it was impressive. You could make a lot of money. It took ages to get that far. Every level you gained meant something. It was an extra bump. A small boost that helped you. If you didn't unlock new recipes, then your chance of failure went down, or the speed at which you did an action slightly increased. Seeing someone in Bronze Armor was entirely different than seeing someone in Iron Armor (at the beginning, these two tiers of players were at least 15 levels apart, which usually translated to about 20 more hours of gameplay on the part of the person with the Iron Armor). I played this game to chase that progression. The progression meant something. Every level was valuable. There was a world of difference between Defense Level 33 and Defense Level 34. It was an insane grind. It didn't feel much like a grind at the time, because you were always progressing towards making the game a lot easier for yourself. There was a point in the game where high enough stats and good enough equipment meant you could easily stomp all the content. Getting to that point was the fun of the game. Now though? There's content that exists for even those who have maxed out all their stats... to create a "sufficient" challenge even for them. The grind exists for no reason now. Likewise, it's so easy to "powerlevel" now, that so many levels are just "empty". They serve no purpose. You no longer get minor buffs... you no longer unlock cool new things you want to do... You just get access to something you will never deal with. I ended my Subscription with the game this year. I hadn't played for over a year and a half and wanted to stop wasting my money. What was there to earn in the game? I'm level 98 Runecrafting (max level is 99), and have no desire to gain that extra level for a cape. I get nothing special out of being max level. Why bother? I'm not getting anything out of a subscription either. I'm paying someone else to take on a second job that I haven't done in a year and a half.

    World of Warcraft
    I tried. I really did. I tried to like this game. I tried to get into it. Even during the height of its popularity. I tried. I've never even made it to Level 10. What does the game ask me to do, right off the bat? Go run Quests to get gear. Quests to unlock my next set of gear. And the next set. And the next set. Go kill 30 Wolves and come back to earn a bag so you can carry more worthless loot. Go kill kobolds until they drop 10 candles and turn them in for your next pair of pants. Yeah, that's SO MUCH FUN. So riveting. The entire game was, "grind all these quests until you're Level 80, and then there's content for you to do that makes you feel badass". Oh, and exploration? Not rewarded. Do I get anything for wandering around the map where nobody goes? No? Okay, cool. Thanks. Let me log out, cancel my subscription at Level 9, and never come back. Yeah, I'm good. Woe be to the fools that enjoy taking on a second job that they pay their employer to do.

    Guild Wars 2
    I picked it up because it was "The Anti-WoW" MMO. To which... yes it is. Amazingly. Surprisingly. I had fun with it until... I guess the most recent expansion that introduced "Mounts"? It wasn't great by any means, but it was kind of cool having content for any and every level. I'd log in a few times a month, play around a bit, do some things that weren't typical of most MMOs... and then log out, satisfied I'd accomplished a little bit of something. I completed all the Jump Puzzles in the game... I found all the Dive Spots and used them. I completed a bunch of random content that I found fun. I did the Story up to Level 80. I leveled up several characters. Spent a bunch of money on Bank Space and characters and random convenience stuff. I spent the vast majority of my time just doing crafting stuff, or gathering stuff, or running random events for loot that I'd just break down for the materials. But... there was no point to doing anything I was doing. I crafted my first set of "Ascended" Tier Level Gear in the game (basically, strongest stuff you can ever get) and... lost interest. I couldn't make more sets of it. I mean, I could, but why? You couldn't trade it. You couldn't sell it. It took a long time to make it (several days of having to log in to make the specific components for it, which had a 24 hour cooldown once you crafted just one of them). Where was there to go? My crafting skill was effectively worthless. The vast majority of my crafting materials were worthless. The story was interesting, but the quests were tedious. I spent a lot of time exploring 100% of the entire map, which I felt accomplished doing... and then didn't do much else in the game besides the crafting and other stuff that rewarded just exploring the game world. Everything I had left to do in the game was just... tedious. Most of it was just achievements. Most of those achievements were excessive grinds. Nobody cared what title you were using (you earned these through achievements) and nobody cared what armor you were wearing (the game came to be called Fashion Wars 2 because it was more about beautiful looking outfits to most players than having amazing armor/weapons with great stats). At that point... I just had nothing left to play the game for. It had become a second job. Everything in it was just so prohibitively inaccessible to casual players like myself, that there was no sense in playing. I may go back every now and again and play for a couple hours... but I don't actually have fun anymore.

    Final Fantasy XIV
    I picked this game up back in April at the prodding of my friend (notorious min/maxing dudebro. He's as annoying as he sounds). He conned me into trying the free trial. I like Final Fantasy, but the track record I have with MMOs is... bad. I picked up the game, it asked me to choose a race, a gender, do all the normal cosmetic stuff (thankfully, the cosmetic stuff isn't that detailed, so when I cover it all up with armor, I'm missing out on what I look like), and pick a starting class. Eh, okay, standard stuff. After the 8 hours, I purchased a subscription. I purchased all the expansions. The game had me invested. Not in the story. I didn't care about the story at the time. Oh no, the game immediately plopped me into a world with like 30 objectives. Lots of stuff to work towards. None of it "difficult". A casual gamer's paradise. I didn't like my starting class? Oh, at Level 10, I could change it and do something else. I could try out every job, class, gathering profession, and crafting profession with a single character. I was not locked into any choice I'd made. Later on, they even gave me a free "change your appearance and gender" item for completing the main storyline of the game before the first expansion. There were a ton of Quests all over the place so that I could get starting gear for a variety of classes. There were Job Quests, which you took to gear up your Job and learn how to do it better. There were "Hunting Logs", with a Level 50 piece of gear at the end of it for every combat class. Roles in combat were so highly specialized that if you didn't let the Tank pull the enemies and tried to pull them as DPS or Healer... you would very often Full Party Wipe and die quite quickly yourself. Crafting actually mattered and was fun to carry out! That level 20 piece of equipment you made? Yeah, there is someone in the game world who wants to buy it and use it. Someone will buy it and use it. The most basic Potion you can craft at level 1? People will buy it. People will use it. Crafting also had "High Quality" modifiers, which means that you could craft an existing item at "High Quality", which would bump its stats up a bit more and offer more advantages. There's a market for this stuff at all levels of gear. I got recruited into a Guild after just 10 hours of gameplay and it was one of the biggest on the server. They offered all kinds of advice and help. There were no obligations to run content with anyone. I could come and go as I pleased. If I needed help with content, I could ask and someone would help me. Nobody expected me to contribute anything to the guild at all. However, I contribute what I can, because they help me out without expectations of me or my time. I still play the game today. 6 months in. I still have fun. I log in with an objective for myself, complete that objective, and log out. I chat with everyone while I do it. Offer advice to new players even. Some parts of the game are insanely tedious and I hate doing... But, they allow me to actually do things other players aren't doing. I have all my crafting classes at Level 30. The game gave me an achievement for doing this. Few other players bother to use all the crafting classes like I have done. I'm working on getting all my gathering classes to level 30 to see if there's another achievement for it. Few players have bothered getting all the gathering classes to Level 30. I have several of the combat jobs at level 30 (and a few far above that) and most other players don't bother doing that either. Any random little thing I decide I want to do and go "all in" on... it's an avenue for advancement and to make myself "unique" in the world, as few players are doing what I'm doing. Heck, I'm playing a "Healer" for the first time in an MMO and was sure I'd hate it. But, I actually love it. The game requires I actually have a level of skill at the game and at my class when I do higher level content. I spend as much time dodging attacks as I do healing everyone. Gameplay feels like a dance! Plus, few people play Healers, so I never wait in lobby queues! Oh, and I can pick up random dead players out in the field! Got in over your head at a low level and got murdered? I can pick you back up! I see you losing a lot of health, I can "drive by heal" you! And I will! For nothing! I find it fun!
    ---
    See that? In one of those MMOs, I'm paying for an experience of fun. A game where I get to have fun. In the rest? I'm playing a game that is just full of dragging its content out as long as possible with no unique rewards for being a unique kind of player. Everything I've done in Runescape, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars 2... everyone else has already done. I have nothing unique about any of the characters I've created in those games. Most of what I was doing was just getting to the "endgame content". Hurry up and reach max level as quickly as possible so the game world opens up to you. Hurry up and reach the max crafting/gathering level as soon as possible so you can actually make money or get access to gear you will use. Grind. Grind. Grind some more. The endgame is "run dungeons" or "do raids". Why are these fun, exactly? They're second jobs that nobody is paying me to do. Why would I be in a hurry to get to doing these? Why are these a requirement at all?

    Some games let you have fun. Other games heavily curate the experience so hard that they just force addiction on you.

    By and large, it is better to create a video game experience where the player has a TOOLBOX to create their own fun... rather than to create a video game experience where you have BUILT A RAILROAD the player must adhere to in order to have fun.
     
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  10. CraneSoft

    CraneSoft Filthy Degenerate Veteran

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    The thing is, different people find different things addicting, same applies to fun and enjoyment.
    Some people just prefer to relax and will find rolling gacha in mobile games for cute girls addicting and fun, while others may only find addiction in difficult/competitve/challenging games where grinding may or may not be part of the fun. The latter is very taxing on the players in that they could easily burn out.

    Whether or not an addicting mechanic is actually fun, it all boils down to personal preference for the player in question and what they expect from your game.
     
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  11. CuddleFox

    CuddleFox Furry Veteran

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    It's a pleasure to grind when you level up fast or have great statistics boosts.
    I remember the beginning of Earthbound where you almost doubled your hp when you went up to level 2, and where each level up brought a big boost in a stat that allowed you to better manage your fights all at once.
    I also remember mother 3 where from one area to another you earned a lot more exp.
    And final fantasy x, where you level up at least once per fight. And where a level up sometimes allows you to multiply your damage if you manage your sphere grid well.

    It's a pleasure to grind in these three games. And a good farming can even push you to continue the game, in the case of mother 3, the areas where you win a lot more exp at once, these are the areas where the scenario is very hollow, and it compensates very well.
     
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  12. EthanFox

    EthanFox Veteran Veteran

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    It's not the dictionary's definition, but I always felt that "addiction", in the contexts it is typically used, refers to something with which someone engages to the point where it can cause them harm.

    So you can become addicted to the gym, if you attend so much that it causes you physical injury.
    You can become addicted to anime if you find yourself watching so much of it that you neglect your relationships.
    You can become addicted to gaming if you're compulsively spending so much that it starts to harm your financial status.

    (probably worth admitting that I have been all three of these people at some point in time.)

    However, that doesn't mean that going to the gym, watching anime or gaming are inherently harmful things.

    That being said, a lot of this is about impulse control. Some people possess good impulse control and some people struggle with it. It's part of the reason why some people are susceptible to gambling and others aren't.
     
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  13. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    these two statements stood out to me as things that I absolutely want to avoid in my game. btw I loved and still play left4dead now and then as well. Never been a big fan of MMO's and stuff, but I don't get addicted very easily (although I enjoyed my time with WoW when I played it.)

    Idk why people can't take a step back when something is obviously not fun and feels obligatory to do. Why can't they look at it and say, "This is stupid? Why am I doing this?" The last time something like this managed to pull me in was FF2(?), but the grinding had a roleplay element to it which was, "This is what it would actually be like to be getting stronger to fight the evil empire."

    This is why "surprise mechanics" are considered villainous. Also, drug dealing. Because these people with poor impulse control, who will often be from broken families and have some sort of trauma or something, are being taken advantage of. It's messed up.
     
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  14. Tech

    Tech Villager Member

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    Randomly-generated loot, like in roguelikes or diablolikes. This combines the "kill enemies and level up" that you were doing anyways with lootboxes.
     
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  15. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    It's pretty different, aside from randomly generated loot. The lootboxes have you opening a box that you most likely paid for to see what's inside. The other examples are actual game content, where you actually play the game and all that stuff happens during the actual gameplay.
     
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  16. BK-tdm

    BK-tdm Manga Maker Veteran

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    The thing with diablolikes and the random drops is that sometimes you're looking for something to finish your "death slash of doom" focused build but in a random drop you get a "boosts damage to spinning tornado of death by 400%" and even if you're not built for that skill you put that on because hey, why not, worse that can happen is a secondary skill in your build right? Then turns out to be wesome and change the entire focus of your build and current goal because you enjoy this playstyle a lot more just because of a random drop and thats one of the appeals of the "randomness" that these games and the surprise mechanics share, difference being that surprise mechanics charge for a pop.
     
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