How to motivate the Player? (pls no Loot Shooter)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by V_Aero, May 21, 2019.

  1. V_Aero

    V_Aero Veteran Veteran

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    Hey all,

    I started working on project with its focus mainly on procedural map generation, exploration and a bit of dungeon crawling. And maybe crafting and other fundamental RPG elements. The scripts work fine and I already have some test dungeons to explore. But it doesnt feel like a 'game' yet. I want the player to freely explore my world and find recipes to create gadgets which help him to continue his journey.

    However, currently there's no real reason to do so. Well, i could throw endless treasure chests at every dungeon, but I dont want to fall into a self-moving water wheel (which describes about 99% of all mobile games). Also I dont want to become an uninspired game designer who lets the player complete arbitrary kill-and-gather quests just to reward him with items or equip, which then leads into a never-ending spiral of better and better equipment items. Yes, MMOs used to be the the hot stuff and currently Loot shooters crash the markets, but honestly I think looting for repetetive tasks just feels like cheating.

    So, what are your thought about how to motivate or reward the player? How to motivate for optional quests?

    My thoughts so far:
    - a Main quest with cool story (obviously)
    - a secret that the player really wants to reveal (like in NoMansSky: what's in the center of the universe?)
    - reward with e.g. skills to solve road blocks
     
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  2. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    -Story, obviously. Give good lore reasons for going to places. (Probably avoid a storyline with pressure on saving the world, then letting the player roam around aimlessly...)
    -Make unique places that look and feel cool. Not just random forest paths, but things like shrines, ravines, big landmarks. Requires creative use of assets, or making your own.
    -Give areas their own stories. Could have small quest lines revolving around areas with objectives that are more than kill-x or talking to a bunch of NPC's only. Have event stuff happen beyond dialogue boxes.
    -Put fun battle encounters in areas that are worth hunting for, from both a gameplay perspective and loot.
     
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  3. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Structure. You need structure. Lots of it.

    If you give the players a big open world and a ton of abstract systems with no guidance... they just go, "huh, what do I do now?".

    I'll use my own game as sort of an example here (it isn't procedurally generated, but it has many systems which provide the player motivation to do things).

    Quest System
    My quests are split up into:
    Main Quest (the thing driving all the characters forward)
    World Quest (A quest which changes some aspect of the world or environment, including killing NPC's)
    Side Quest (a self contained storyline that doesn't affect anyone except the quest giver)
    Personal Quest (a quest that is given to you by a party member or your main character. Completing it only affects that character, or the interpersonal relationships of those in the party)
    Skill Quest (Quests which give the characters new skills or upgrade existing skills)
    Collection Quest (Quests which solely involve collecting one of the three collectible items in the game and are traded in for unique rewards)

    Okay, so seeing that list, you might ask, "Why would anyone get involved with any of these that don't directly give power?". You got the usual "For storyline" reasons, yes. For me, that wasn't good enough. These Quests are the only way to provide direct power to any of your characters. The Main Quest unlocks new areas for you to go into. New characters. Tougher Challenges. It also eventually provides the "end" of the game. World Quests often change some aspect of the world you're interacting with, often making it cater to your will. If you help out the Merchant's Guild, more shops with more variety show up. If you don't help out the Merchant's Guild, the next town over will sell very high end equipment as they hold the monopoly on that equipment (items you might not find anywhere else, but aren't the best items, and are very expensive).

    Etcetera. There's a built in reason for each of these to exist.

    I'll tell you why you do Side Quests under the "Leveling" system.

    Leveling System
    Level ups grant now real power in my game. You gain no stats. The only way to gain stats is to get new equipment (through exploration or Questing) or to complete quests (every Quest rewards items that you use on your party members to increase stats). This prevents players from grinding combat for anything except money or drops.

    So, if you want power, you go Questing. You get involved in the stories.

    So then, what is the point of leveling up? You still gain XP, but what is the purpose?

    Your levels unlock things. Most of what is unlocked is "shortcuts" around the map. However, vendors can open up, new dungeons, and even new "personal quests" to do.

    But, if power isn't tied to your level, what happens if you unlock a quest you can't complete due to being too weak?

    Combat System
    Combat revolves around low stats. Every stat point matters. Having 15 defense or 16 defense can be the difference between whether you can die in 3 hits or 4.

    That being sad, dumping every point into defense doesn't matter. There are enemies that will use skills that work against your Magic Defense. Some that use skills against your Luck stat. Every character is specialized into a certain stat role, but it can be changed through Questing and distributing stats how you like. You could be completely immune to the end boss of the game, but without the proper stats, a monster at the beginning of the game could still do 20+ damage to you a hit. Likewise, you might be able to one shot the boss of the game, but the enemies before them, due to your stat distribution, may take 3 or 5 or 10 hits to kill due to what skills you're using and which stats.

    Combat itself is about motivating the player to solve the "combat challenges". Each basic fight exists to teach the player a piece of strategy. The boss fights exist to test the player on how well they learned that strategy. In essence, it becomes a puzzle game.

    Even more? There's no Dedicated Healer. You must spend an action dropping a single target consumable to erase your mistakes. You must use your skills. You must measure when is a good time to use which skills and even when to just hit "attack". You must spend your money on consumables and keep them stockpiled. For that same token, Consumables found in treasure chests are rare as well.

    Treasure System
    Monsters don't really drop much of anything. Some of them have rare, but unique drops (sword, piece of armor, etcetera), but most drop nothing in terms of items. Bosses have a high drop rate for the "unique drops", but it isn't guaranteed. Some monsters may drop items you already have, so you can sell them if you don't have them yet. But, you're not getting Potions and Antidotes from enemies.

    Treasure Chests are color coded to denote value to the player.
    Red Chest - Weapon of some kind. These are usually weapons you cannot buy in shops (at least... not without some pre-requisites explained later).
    Blue Chest - Armor of some kind. These are pretty common. Not very "unique" either. There's a lot of armor in the game and much of it is "mix and match". Some of it is rare enough you won't find it anywhere else.
    Green Chest - Consumables. These are so rare in the world, that a green chest may be just what you want. It could contain any sort of Consumable you may need or want! A coveted Elixir? Maybe!
    Yellow Chest - Currency or Collectible Item of some kind. These rarely contain regular Gold Pieces to add to your wallet. More often than not, they contain one of the three Collectibles. Silver Keys, Guild Certificates, or Diamonds.
    Wooden Box - Can be opened for a single item of any random kind. If you have a Pirate with you who can Pillage, however... you may get multiples of that item... or multiples of a different item.
    Wooden Chest - Cannot be opened unless you have a Thief with you. The Thief can lockpick this for some rare and valuable loot.
    Metallic Silver Chest - Can only be opened with a Silver Key. Contains unique loot you cannot get anywhere else. Not even in shops.
    ---
    All of these systems feed back into each other. You want the stats to do better in combat. To do better in combat, you need to buy more equipment or do more quests. To get more equipment, you need to do more quests or go looking for chests. To beat the game, you need to be good at combat and progress the story with Quests. To get around the map faster, you need to unlock shortcuts by leveling up and doing combat. To get consumables for healing, you need to do combat to get the money to buy them. Or, find the rare Green Chests.

    This isn't even getting into that there are more places to spend Guild Certificates and Silver Keys than there are total amounts of them. Or that you can sell Diamonds for 50,000 Gold at any time, but you're missing out on unique pieces of equipment you can't get anywhere else (and drastically change gameplay) if you do so.

    It's all one large feedback loot of activities. Of player motivators. Of directions to send the player in. If you want to do this, here's what you do. If you want to do that, here's what you do. When you start the game, you're doing the main story, here's how you get there. Etcetera.

    Direction is what's necessary. Tell the player what they're supposed to do. Create systems that feedback into other systems to keep them doing those things. To provide a REASON to do things.
     
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  4. V_Aero

    V_Aero Veteran Veteran

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    @Tai_MT your game sounds really interesting :thumbsup-right:
     
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  5. somenick

    somenick Veteran Veteran

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    @V_Aero Hey! I love No Man's Sky! :)

    In your game, your character might be seeking something, someplace, someone. Maybe prompt the players with a few menu options and from that, give a story. Completing a series of dungeons could give you X or Y gadget which then lets you continue with the plot. Or something.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
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  6. V_Aero

    V_Aero Veteran Veteran

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    Yeah it is an awesome game, since its Next Update. It has it pros, that is procedural generated world, exploring and crafting, but it also has its cons when you mine minerals to upgrade your utility to then faster mine to further upgrade :D
     
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  7. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    I think mysteries are always a good motivation.
    we're curious creatures by nature, so it's likely that we'd be driven to answer a question rather than collecting the reward to the question already answered.

    have the player *find* their way through the game, instead of laying it out for them and rewarding them randomly along the way.
    but have in mind that the players can also *miss* the clue, and never find the way, so make sure to have different paths with different levels of complexity.... and try (since it can be harder to accomplish) to have the different paths be unique, so if the player finds one path and reward, that they won't be able to go back and play another path, potentially with increased difficulty, only to come out to a reward already earned.
     
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  8. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Motivating players isn't a mechanic as such.
    I think this is best in General Discussion.

    Moving this.

     
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  9. Umbreon

    Umbreon Furry Veteran

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    The key to motivating the player is that he knows absolutely all the time exactly what he needs to do to get what he wants, on many levels. Ideally, the player should know what to do for 1: Let the scenario move forward, 2: To improve his characters. And that in any case, it's not boring to do. A good rpg is an rpg with a lot of systems that respond to each other precisely so that the player knows what to do to get what he wants.
     
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