Giving the player optional Risk and Reward

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by jonthefox, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    Here's a question. First, obviously it would be unfair and unfun to present the player with a risky situation when they are unprepared or uninformed. So, for the purpose of this discussion, let's assume that the player has been given sufficient warning and clarity that the situation - whether it be an encounter, a puzzle, or a dungeon - carries some kind of risk.

    With that said, how much do you think it's appropriate to offer the player a situation - whether it be an encounter, a puzzle, or a dungeon - that carries both risk and reward. The reward would obviously be some kind of special item or skill or exp or unlocking a secret area or something in the story - but what can be the risk? Is there ever any kind of risk you can appropriately give the player other than a "game over, reload your last save file" ? If so, what could it be?
     
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  2. Silenity

    Silenity Veteran Veteran

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    Kinda depends.
    I feel like it's always reward anyway because most players will reset until the results fall into their favor.
    It could be something like loss of a party member via permadeath also Fire Emblem, or loss of stats, significant gold/item loss, buff to enemies on a global scale so now all future fights are harder, shop items become more expensive.

    Just some risks I thought up real quick. But like I said. I think most players would restart imo.
     
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  3. EthanFox

    EthanFox Veteran Veteran

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    Sometimes the risk can be loss of temporary progress or time. So, for example, near the end of a dungeon, there's a powerful item across a tightrope. If the user fails, they don't die but they get sent back to near the start of the dungeon.

    The player could try as many times as they want, but each time they're going to lose some progress.
     
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  4. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    My approach to risk/reward is basically just these things:
    • Optional puzzles. As in, tricky puzzles (push some blocks, step on some tiles, etc) you don't have to complete to progress in the story, but if complete, give the player some sort of extra special loot or other reward. The "risk" in this case is really just losing time and getting frustrated if it's too hard for them, though.
    • Superbosses. The ultimate risk/reward with the ultimate price for failure--a game over and lost time.
    • Gambling. Like at a casino or something. This one's tricky because the player can just save scum, but if done right (pre-emulator savestates, DQ4 did a great job of it) they'll still lose a lot of time doing so.
    Anything other than that, such as permadeath of a party member, stat/level/equipment loss isn't really fun (in my opinion) and is really just an open invitation for players to save scum their way to the reward.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  5. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I like this thread a lot. There are tons of different ways you can add risk to a situation with reward beyond the Game Over! Among the "penalties" for failing in an optional (or even a mandatory) challenge could be:
    • Losing gold or items (note that this also covers the very popular case where you spend gold/items to play the challenge, and simply receive nothing when you fail the challenge)
    • Forcing the player into a battle upon failing the challenge
    • Removing treasure from (or adding enemy encounters to) the dungeon upon failing the challenge
    • Permanently losing stat points on characters
    • Being given a debuff for the remainder of the dungeon
    • Locking the use of a skill for some period of time
    • Losing access to a specialty shop
    • Having the plot branch one of two (or more) ways in the case of failure vs. success
    • Having the gameplay temporarily branch for failure vs. success (e.g. do this dungeon next if you succeed, do that dungeon next if you fail)
    • Having character dialogue significantly branch for failure vs. success
    • Being forced to complete a small sidequest (either in order to progress in the plot, or in order to lift one of the other penalties listed here)
    • Losing a "life" in games with multiple lives, or taking HP (or MP) damage in games that don't have multiple lives
    • Character permadeath (use with extreme caution unless characters are expendable in your game design)
    • Simply not being able to try that challenge again, missing out on whatever reward was available - though with no additional penalty
    The big issue with some of these is Save Scumming. Personally, I'm a player that like to immerse myself in the adventure and "play the ball where it lies" as long as the penalty doesn't seem crushing, unexpected, and unfair. I consider taking losses from calculated risks to be a part of the fun. However, if I'm to believe many experienced game designers (and I do believe they could be right), a large portion of the player base will save-scum any bad result.

    The game's save system can be used to combat save scumming - for example, Undertale only allows a single save file per adventure, and you've often saved again (committing your change) by the time you see the results of your action; Evolution: Worlds forced you to save (locking in the random seed) before revealing the results of a lottery ticket, and many Roguelikes only allow a Soft Save, so players can never return to a save file if they don't like the results they get (or even if they mess up!).

    Several of the ideas above could actually benefit from the Undertale model - even if you allow for multiple save files, the brilliance lies in the fact that the results of your actions aren't revealed until much later on, so that players are more likely to accept the consequences (and maybe try a different path on the next playthrough) than to go all the way back to the point they took the action. For things like casino games, save scumming can be partially combated by randomizing the numbers in advance, so that (for example) even after reloading and doing other things, the next 10 spins of the Slot Machine will have the same result (just be careful not to do that with the Roulette wheel!).
     
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  6. Shadowfield

    Shadowfield Villager Member

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    I agree with @Wavelength about the prospect that some players may save scum if they really don't like the results they got.

    Here is my 2 cents on a idea of a possible risk v. Reward concept;
    * player goes to fight a optional boss (lets say it is a champion of some tournament), after beating this boss the player gets some new skill or item from the boss. However now new enemy troops appear throughout the game world looking to beat the current champion (which is the player) and these new troops are either slightly stronger than the norm or higher depending on what the dev whats to do. Also there could be a slight chance that the former optional boss will be the one to attack the player as they explore and the boss is much stronger than he was before. All cause the player got that special skill/item.
     
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