I have a forum argument going on with devs of another MMO over several months now. In order to have good points in the argument I’ve read some articles and watched some vids. Which I’d like to share now with whom it may concern. Especially CSM members and candidates. Hope you’ll find those useful.
I heard many times in Talking in Stations, INN, CCP twitch videos how they oppose “fighter” and “builder” player types. That is pretty narrow view on player motivation. CCP_Hellmar often brings up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a theory which has been falsified. At least in that the “hierarchy” part is based on the assumption that the lower needs must be satisfied before a person can achieve their potential and self-actualize, which is demonstrably false.
PLEASURE AND MOTIVATION IN VIDEO GAMES
Game Reward Systems: Gaming Experiences and Social Meanings
Many researchers have tried to clarify why people play video games. LeBlanc (2004) has
proposed an MDA (mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics) model for game design analysis
that includes a list of eight kinds of fun: sensation, fantasy, narrative, challenge,
fellowship, discovery, expression, and submission (see also Hunicke, 2004). Lazzaro
(2004) has listed four keys to creating emotion in video games as hard fun, easy fun,
altered state, and a people factor. Bartle’s (1996) four player categories, based on multi-
user dungeon (MUD) games, are achievers, killers, socializers, and explorers—a
taxonomy that corresponds to player activities. Based on player responses to massively
multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), Yee (2007) has extended Bartle’s
taxonomy to propose three major MMORPG gaming components: achievement,
immersion, and social interaction. According to Ryan et al. (2006), the pull of a game is
sometimes associated with out-of-game effects. Using self-determination theory (SDT),
they posit that the pull of games largely results from their ability to generate (at least in
the short term) three key feelings of well-being: autonomy (sense of willingness),
competence (challenge and feeling of effectance), and relatedness (feeling of connection
with other people). Koster (2005) views game fun in terms of four categories: fun,
aesthetic appreciation, visceral reactions, and social status maneuvers. In that taxonomy,
fun focuses on mastering a problem mentally—that is, recognizing new patterns based on
our brain’s desire for stimuli. Thus, Koster’s definition of a good game is one that teaches
a player all aspects of the game before the player stops playing. In the following sections,
we analyze how reward systems provide pleasure and satisfying experiences by
classifying rewards and playing activities, and relate reward mechanics to psychological
Famous Bartle taxonomy of player types, which divides players into Killers, Achievers, Explorers, and Socializers according to their interest in acting/interacting with world/players.
Famous Self-determination theory claims that Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness are innate and universal psychological needs.
I highly recommend watching Ubisoft’s Jason VandenBerghe GDC2016 talk Engines of Play: How Player Motivation Changes Over Time (1:02:12) where he connects O.C.E.A.N. personality model with SDT theory and Bartle’s taxonomy.
I also recommend watching Nick Yee’s GDC2019 talk A Deep Dive into the 12 Motivations (1:03:01)
Richard Bartle’s talk at Gamelab Barcelona 2017 Non player types: who is not playing and why (0:34:23) where he brings up reasons why different people quit games and stop playing.
It’s a common thing to hear people say in gaming forums “you can’t play this game solo, its an MMO”.
In this classic GDC 2011 talk, BioWare Austin’s Damion Schubert (0:51:23) discusses the rationale for solo playstyles in MMORPGs.
Being a 'loner' implies and requires other people - namely those which are being avoided.
The 10 Different Kinds of Loners:
- The new kid in town. Many people prefer doing their learning alone, away from social scrutiny and the potential shame of failure.
- The Daria. A staggering 90% of the readers of the most mailing lists and message boards never post. These ‘lurkers’ still find value in just watching - because other people are interesting.
- The Sociopath. “It’s long been known that people are less inhibited over the phone than in person, and people are now aware that they are less inhibited in email than on the phone, and I believe they are less inhibited in MUDs than in email. This leads to an interesting conclusion for MUD design - penalties won’t solve your playerkiller problem. Helping them gain empathy will.” - Raph Koster
- Mr. Lunch At His Desk. Many players are playing under real-world constraints, such as during limited break opportunities at work, or at home when the spouse and baby are asleep.
- The Introvert. A huge percentage of the population are Myers Briggs ‘introverts’ - between 25-50% of the population, depending on which study you read.
- The Adrift. Having a social group disintegrate can be just as terrifying as being dumped, and create similar feelings of loneliness. In this case, playing solo is a broken state.
- The Unworthy. Find ways for these players to learn the skills they need in a solo environment, where they can fail without the social stigma of failure.
- Vacationer. The player wants to play the game he loves to escape his obligations. Sometimes this includes his in-game obligations.
- The Commitment-phobic. Many players like the idea of group activities like raids, but are leery of huge timesinks, potential drama, or making a commitment to 25 other people who turn out to be idiots.
- The Garbo. Some people just want to be left alone. It is important to remember there’s a clear difference between being alone and being lonely.
They say getting into player corp early, engaging in fleet roams, interacting with other players is good for retention. Solo players are considered less engaged. And though EVE always was and still is great for solo, CCP seems to have pivoted towards group gameplay design lately. And they should keep solo players in mind.
In this 2017 GDC panel, Mind Bullet Games’ Geoffrey Engelstein (1:02:51) examines board games and other relevant game-like experiences to explore framing, regret, competence, and other effects, and their relation to the concept of loss aversion in gameplay.
Watch the talk, it’s awesome. Here are some good points:
Losses are 2x more intense than Gains.
There is little you can do in D&D to viscerally terrify players, but for whatever reason level draining does it. Giving something to a player and then taking it away is very emotional.
Too many choices is bad. When choices get to more than seven, decision-making ability plummets. People will avoid making a decision rather than make a wrong one.
In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone , is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.
In game design, the flow is an important factor to take in consideration if you want to create player engagement. Here is the list of elements that can influence and affect the flows in video games.
Rewards: Intrinsically rewards are constantly obtained by the player as real and instant rewards.
Clear goals: The players have clear goals and know what to achieves. There’s is no question about it and this element is important to be clear for the entire player progression through the game.
Loss of consciousness: The flow works well in video games when the player doesn’t have to concentrate on what he’s doing to achieve an action. This is the state for the player is the merging of action and awareness.
Loss sense of time: The player is hooked by the activities that he’s doing and doesn’t realize that the time flies while doing it.
Direct and immediate feedback : The player is guided by the feedback of the game and know what and how much to succeed.
The balance between player skills and challenge: The challenge of the activity is neither too easy or too difficult. The challenge is constantly adapted to the player’s skill. Even if this seems to be obvious, this is where most of the game failed and I will explain why later.
The player controls the situation and the activity: The player feels that he can successfully beat the challenge. The objective for him seems reachable.
I understand the reasoning but still hate how they changed Emerging Conduits respawn timer from 1 to 10 minutes.
Afk mining, afk ratting exist for a reason. When activity does not feel engaging players won’t do it for fun.
The overjustification effect occurs when an expected external incentive such as money or prizes decreases a person’s intrinsic motivation to perform a task. The overall effect of offering a reward for a previously unrewarded activity is a shift to extrinsic motivation and the undermining of pre-existing intrinsic motivation. Once rewards are no longer offered, interest in the activity is lost; prior intrinsic motivation does not return, and extrinsic rewards must be continuously offered as motivation to sustain the activity.
In this 2019 GDC session, Grinding Gear Games’ Chris Wilson (0:59:15) describes how Path of Exile has been designed to retain and grow its community for the very long term.
Design pillars for great action-rpg:
- Visceral action combat
- Randomly generated levels
- Randomly generated items
- Secure online economy
- Deep character customization
I’d say those are important for engaging PVE experience in any game genre.
If I had to pick one single most important point in this talk it is going to be Content re-use (timestamp 0:38:38). They re-use game mechanics blocks from leagues as rewards later in the game when a league is over.
CCP could also add items or triggers to spawn event sites like Guardian Gala, Blood Raider Event, Rogue Drone Infestations etc., like they did with filaments. Event sites on demand, available as a reward, new kind of escalations, expeditions.
UI / UX
Celia Hodent is a Game UX consultant with a PhD in cognitive psychology, author of The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can Impact Video Game Design. She made a great 3 part talk. @CCP_Convict, @CCP_Dopamine, guys, make Hilmar hire her, seriously.
The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX Can Impact Design (0:53:47) In this 2015 GDC talk, Epic Games’ Celia Hodent provides fun facts about the brain to help designers increase the chance of their audience experiencing the intended design of their game.
The Gamer’s Brain, Part 2: UX of Onboarding and Player Engagement (0:57:08) In this 2016 GDC session, UX Researcher Celia Hodent cover the common onboarding pitfalls in game design, provide guidelines from User Experience (UX) research, and discusses best-practices used on titles like Epic Games’ Fortnite.
The Gamer’s Brain, Part 3: The UX of Engagement and Immersion (or Retention) (1:03:37) In this 2017 GDC talk, UX strategist Celia Hodent discusses the UX challenges of retention and how to use cognitive science knowledge and the scientific method to make your game enjoyable and engaging in the long term.
Devs should be very careful using red color in UI, as human perception has certain limitations and red just draws too much attention. It is statistically proven that in team fps games red team is more likely to lose, simply because of this.
Red dot. CCP, if you absolutely need it to stay, at least change it’s color.