Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Needs Moar Epics!

Rewards in games. Best example of a reward based gaming system I can think of is WoW. The quest for better gear and weapons in this game is pretty much the reason for most people's addiction to it. Whether it be through PvP or PvE gameplay, Epic quality items are both highly sought after and (at the moment) quite easy to attain. These sort of rewards are very 'physical' awards, in terms of the game itself, as their contribution affect how effective your character is (or isn't) at particular roles. This sort of reward system can be both extremely pleasing (working towards gear and achieving it) as well as frustrating (not getting your drops) as well as the various arguments concerning hardcore and casual (scrub, apparently...) players. This sort of reward system is in my opinion, an excellent model for catering to addictive and repetitive play, especially if you constantly make the best items in the game redundant through high content patches.

Below: WoW - BC greens > Pre-BC epics

There are however other rewards, even in games like WoW. Games that give you titles, rankings or even just recognition for doing difficult or skillful based objectives can also be ... well rewarding. They don't really make you a better player (or person) and don't necessarily enhance the gaming experience, but they do give you a sense of accomplishment. Another example in WoW for me was grinding rank 11 (Lieutenant General) back in the day in WoW's old honor system. This was both an extremely time consuming and wasteful period of gameplay that I will never do again (or can for that matter). You basically needed to be in the best honor farming team on the server, sometimes pitted against the best of your opposite faction. This also required you to PvP for long periods of time and win successively if you wanted a shot at increasing in rank. You therefore had to be an above average PvPer, as obviously only the people who are on the top of their game were ever allowed in these teams.

Below: WoW - Razial: Lieutenant General

Moving away from WoW (a good game that is rather bad for you), there is also reward in the unveiling of the narrative of many singleplayer games. Series such as Final Fantasy and from my personal experience Legacy of Kain contain very rich story lines and history that is a pleasure to unveil during the course of the game. This sort of gaming experience is more akin to reading a book, though you are rewarded with the storyline depending on your ability to move through the content. It is the sort of gaming experience that is probably the most gratifying in my opinion, and something I would like to eventually get back in to (*prays for Soul Reaver 4*).

Below: Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver opening (1999)

And of course, you cannot talk about rewards without mentioning the personal achievement or pride based awards. Did you beat that game on extreme difficulty? Yeah? Did you get anything for it? No? Who cares! You still beat it on extreme! It's a way of measuring one's prowess at a game, much like saying you can beat godlike or nightmare bots in UT2k4 and Quake 3, and saying you can 100% 'Through the Fire and Flames' in Guitar Hero 3. It's a goal/objective you set for yourself, and even though you may never be able to do it again, at least you can say you did at one point.

Ideas? Well, the only type of reward you will be getting in our game is the reward of winning, so the reward is based upon the skill and tactics of the player themselves. However, there may be recognition in the game concerning the odds and outcomes of winning, which could be seen as rewarding as well. Rewards will definetly be something worth looking into, especially during consecutive games.

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