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View Full Version : Carrots on Sticks aka Player Enticements


Labyrrinth
01-16-2007, 11:31 AM
Gamasutra has an interesting article up that exams the reasons and motivational needs responsible for player satisfaction; “Gameplay strategies for motivating players largely focus on reward paradigms (“carrots on sticks”) that dangle the sweet enticements of hidden levels, provocative content, and variations on the Sword of A Thousand Truths. But like all of us, don’t games want to be loved for who they are deep down, and not what they have? read more (http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20070116/rigby_01.shtml)

After reading the article yourself, tell us what you think. Do you agree or disagree? Do you find the game your currently playing, whether it be Vanguard: Saga of Heroes or some other MMORPG effectively dangling that carrot?

NorrinRadd
01-16-2007, 03:04 PM
Very good read, it takes some of the mystery out of trying to create a good experience ingame. As the gaming industry gets some more age under its belt alot of these strategies will be fundemental and basic.

I think we need more creative people in the gaming industry also. Let the artists explore within a good foundation. Right now most games are severely lacking any creativity at all.

I see poor management an issue in the industry also. Hopefully it will get better.

Leto Eu`Acumen
01-16-2007, 06:08 PM
Money is the enemy to creativity.

When folks are investing millions and millions of dollars into a project (which MMO's require nowadays), they expect to get a return on that investment. Creativity means risk, because you are doing and trying things that haven't necessarily been done before (or done with much success). People can get nervous when you go in all new and untried directions with their money :P

xiudin
01-16-2007, 06:20 PM
One of the things that I think gets overlooked when making these games is the ability to fail. I don't find any sense of competence or autonomy in a game that does not allow me to fail.

ammie
01-16-2007, 10:17 PM
A very interesting article, you see those "carrots" many times in game and when they are won a kind of drifting seems to set in unless more are provided.
An example would be say, reaching level 60 in WOW. How many times would you see folk enthusiastically enjoying the journey (Can't wait to get there, syndrome) Then on attaining level 60 say things like "don't rush it's not worth it" A real loss of motivation once the carrot was attained.

There were raids of course and for some that was a great stimulus, with competence, autonomy and relatedness in abundance, especially if you were a raid leader or MT. For others those very things became lost in the large raiding "crowd" Maybe that is why there is such a love/hate relationship with raids.
Not only that but even the uber item related carrots that were offered must lose importance over time if everyone receives the same. Which only goes to show we also like our carrots unrivalled.


SWG in its heyday offered great autonomy to build and create, at the same time it centered strongly on relating/socialising. When that was taken away from players in the name of "a better game" the emotional backlash was amazing. I suppose in a lesser way that is what WOW did to some players reaching 60.

Whilst all of us variable players sit back and yell "we want new-fangled 3rd generations games" the poor devs should sit on a never-ending supply of quality carrots wondering who, why and what, gets which carrot where. Bet they guessed that's what we wanted all along. ;)

NorrinRadd
01-17-2007, 01:07 PM
Money is the enemy to creativity.

When folks are investing millions and millions of dollars into a project (which MMO's require nowadays), they expect to get a return on that investment. Creativity means risk, because you are doing and trying things that haven't necessarily been done before (or done with much success). People can get nervous when you go in all new and untried directions with their money :P


I agree. Its not unlike the music or movie industry. Release 100 titles a year , maybe a handful take the risk and pull off something interesting. The thing I would like to see more of the is the maturity of companies with better fundementals. Right now there are just too many of them that release chaos with fancy graphics. But thats were the money is :)

Kayd
01-19-2007, 03:07 AM
When folks are investing millions and millions of dollars into a project (which MMO's require nowadays), they expect to get a return on that investment. Creativity means risk, because you are doing and trying things that haven't necessarily been done before (or done with much success). People can get nervous when you go in all new and untried directions with their money :P
The parasox is that in the entertainment industry the worst products are usualy those which don't take chances. How many horrible formula Star Wars or Alien remakes did you see when those first came out. And, I suspect the investors were all a twitter that they were backing a movie they thought couldn't miss because it had all the elements of the plot of Alien. Playing it safe is not a luxury anyone in the entertainment industry can afford because safe is boring.

We see the same thing in the MMORPG genre, Horizons rips off EQ and fails to make much of a splash. EQ2 tries to position themselves against a just releasing Wow and looses the interest of their EQ base. Meanwhile Blizzard who took the risk Horizons did not, and made a very different game from EQ, one that fully reflected Blizzards unique values, becomes a hit beyond anyones expectations. What if those investors in Blizzard had pointed to EQ and said "don't take any chances, here's the most successful MMORPG of all time, copy that." In the entertainment industry it pays huge to be creative, and interesting, but even more than that it pays to be yourself.

Leto Eu`Acumen
01-19-2007, 03:55 AM
I knew Horizons was going to fail years before it ever released.

I don't wanna throw mud around or anything, but the fella who started the Horizons Project was a fella we called "DA" (I am not gonna post his name here, you guys can look it up yourselves if you want.)....And quite frankly, he was a BS artist. He could sell just about anything but didn't have the skill or the know-how to back it up. The Project before Horizons that he tried ended about as well as Horizons did including the ridiculous delays halfway through the development process.

Horizons was unique. Not to bash on your examples or anything, but Horizons really is an out lier.

I just feel sorry for the folks who had no idea about DA's ways and got sold on it too, and wasted a lot of time.

Besides, I can come out with just as many examples of "copycat" products in the entertainment industry that are hugely successful.

Even the Diablo, Diablo 2, D2X, Dungeon Siege 2, Titan's Quest etc, that entire line of games and more use the same basic formula and they are all financial successes.

Movements forward in the Entertainment Industry tend to be Evolutionary vs Revolutionary, and are even moreso the more money is invested in them. You can afford to make a certain number of changes and try to improve on things and to a certain degree go in a few new directions to boot, but you can't afford to simply break from the pack and go in an entirely new direction nobody has ever seen before without taking on enormous financial risk.

Occasionally that happens, but it is exreamly rare.

Bregalad
01-19-2007, 04:48 PM
Money, however, is required in great amount to build and launch a project as complex as an MMO. And as genre proves viable, no small thanks to EQ1, and then WoW, publishers will be willing to take risks.

However, one has to account the genre when considering a copycat vs an original.
For example, movies. They hardly compete. You release a sci-fi movie - even if it is hauntingly similar to another movie already at the theaters, so what? People who like sci-fi will go see that movie one weekend, and see yours another. They are not going to watch same movie over and over.

Simplistic games like FPSs or primitive hack/slash like Diablo: similar. Time your release a month or so from other major releases, and if your game looks good and has engaging gameplay, you'll have brisk sales. Most people would have chewed through the content of the previous release 2-3 times over by now, maybe dabbled in multiplayer a bit, by by and large they are ready for more of the same.
Large-scale RPGs like Oblivion and strategy games like Civ IV need a lot more elbow space. Civ IV can provide one with months of first-class entertainment, with nary a need to buy another game of this kind for a LONG while. You you want your open ended strategy to sell well, you better come up with something original, or aim a release into a genre crisis.
Finally, MMOs. With their multi-year span, huge time investment requirement, and attachment that forms due to all the time invested, a game of this kind can put a real hold on the player, and become exclusive. One might go and buy a copycat of Diablo about a month after buying the original. How many WoW players will go and buy a copycat of WoW as long as WoW itself is still booming? Besides, unlike other games, in order to recoup the development and maintenance cost, getting someone to buy the box to give it a try is not enough - an MMO has to RETAIN. To do that, it must find a different approach to better satify the needs of its target audience.
It might take a few more fizzled imitation MMOs, but I believe that in the end, investors will realize that in MMO-land, creativity and original idea is a better bet than a copycat.