Friday Bullet Points from Gamasutra

It is Friday and time for some bullet points about things about which I could not muster full blog posts.  This week the common theme here is that they are from the Gamasutra blogs, which are opinion pieces submitted by their community.

Gamasutra focuses on the video game industry from a developer’s perspective, which can give the site its own flavor.  This includes an often used outsider submission system for blog posts.  These posts can range from esoteric to down in the nitty gritty technical, but enough of them interest me that I keep the blogs section in my RSS feed.  So I thought I would share a few recent items from there that I enjoyed.

This is the article that made me think about doing this post.  A lot of blogs are retros about how things worked out for a particular game.  In this case, it is a pretty deep view into how the game Cultist Simulator did on Steam, diving into so pretty specific details you are unlikely to find elsewhere.  To an outsider it provides information both about how well the game did and how things even work when you’re a developer on Steam.

A developer side view of the impact of microtransactions and cash shops in video games and how they can be a good for a quick buck up front but may ultimately end up losing you player support over the longer term if not well thought out.

A look at another item that I think about now and then, the daily login rewards and such that games use to tempt players to keep logging back in.  Fatigue is such a good word to describe how I feel about them after a while.

I mentioned the game play loop idea in a comment recently, as it is something that comes up in Yahtzee Croshaw’s video dev diary series about developing twelve games in twelve months. (I recommend it. You can find it on YouTube under The Escapist.)   This is another look at the importance of this aspect of game design.

This is actually from the news section of Gamasurta, but I thought I would end with it as a bit of an illustration.  I think the headline is a good look at an insider view of the Project Nova announcement.  The gaming press largely fell over itself in a rush to declare the game cancelled, despite there being evidence against that and even a question as to whether CCP or Pearl Abyss even said that during the investor call.  And the focus of the post is about how CCP will handle project announcements going forward, a very different tack than the gaming press took.

Anyway, that is what I have for this Friday in early March.  If you live in the US in an area that does the semi-annual daylight savings time dance, this is the weekend we “spring forward,” so I look forward to everybody at the office being sleep deprived on Monday.

1 thought on “Friday Bullet Points from Gamasutra

  1. bhagpuss

    The piece on Reward Fatigue is fascinating but I don’t entirely find it matches my own experience. The video example is peculiar in that it appears to act as a direct roadblock to playing the game. You see the player having to click through numerous chests before the game itself appears. I’ve never encountered a system like that and I can easily see why it would lead to someone not logging in at all.

    All the games I’ve played that use a lot of extrinsic rewards do so from within the game itself. You log in, your character is avaialble and active within the virtual world (such as it may be) and then rewards are offered via various pop-ups, prompts and in-game activities. When this is done well, as it is, for example, in Riders of Icarus I find it both motivating and entertaining. I played that game for months pretty much only to get those rewards and I enjoyed doing it. I only stopped when a change of ownership locked me out altogether for many weeks.

    When it’s badly done (from my perspective), as it is in Dragon Nest M, I feel so overwhelmed and oppressed by loud, noisy, obtrusive demands for attention that I find myself avoiding a game i might otherwise enjoy playing. The difference is in the presentation not the content, or it is for me. You could describe EQ2’s Overseer rewards as extrinsic, since they don’t really rely on player skill in any significant way, but there’s enough interaction and choice there to keep me involved beyond merely wanting the rewards (although the rewards, as they are in Riders of Icarus, have the potential to be very good indeed, which certainly is motivating).

    To me, the key factor in all cases is agency. I respond well to systems that sit back and let me choose to use them when it suits me to do so. I respond badly to mechanics that push themselves into my face and demand I get involved. The one in the video looks like the most extreme version of the latter.


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