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July 21, 2019
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Collect & Reward System: What you think and what they feel

by Hamidreza Nikoofar on 02/13/14 02:59:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


 One of the most key elemnts of videogames which makes it different from other medias is the interactivity. People can do things to the game's world and consequently feel the things the world do to them. It’s a very obvious fact but it can go very deep and become a tricky thing.

 For the last 2 years I’d been designing a multiplayer FPS game called “Fighting in Aden Gulf” which has been published in Iran this month. I did a lot of research and work to make a good reward system for it. Since it’s only a multiplayer game, the whole fact of upgrading and reward system were very crucial. At the end of every day I would face this question “What cool things player can do to get cooler reward from the game ?” and finally this question was raised “What is the definition of cool ?” and that’s a very important question. I’ve been working with people who come up with good ideas for reward system. They say “ We want players to do this and that”, allright, now what would you give them in exchange ? what would you reward them to do this moslty optional and not very important to the whole structure of game thing ? Sometimes they don’t have any answer and that means nothing but disaster. Sometimes the idea is there but it’s not that good. Here is a tricky thing. You think the element you chose for the game is good and very exciting but the truth is, players don’t give a shit about it! This is the time that what you think is completely different from what players feel.

Now I narrowed this fact down only in two aspects: 1-Reward System, 2- Collecable Items system.

  1. Reward System:

 In short, Reward system is the new possibilites and gifts you give to players in exchange of them doing something cool or not very much ordinary in your game.

I don’t want to expand this article into massive games like RPGs or other games which their main system relise on it.

The first idea which may occures to mind is achievemnts or trophies. Kill 20 enemies with a chain combo or use this weapon through out this level or assasinate that guy with a pistol. Players do these things and all you have to offer in exchange is an achievemnt in Xbox or Trophy in PlayStation. That’s good, people love challenges but some people are not very much into achievemnts. I think a perfect game is the one that satisfy both sides. For instance in Hack’n’Slash genere, players execute combos. They kill many enemies in a row without getting one hit. All you get in exchange is the combo numbers on the screen or extra points and ranks at the end of the chapter, something like Devil May Cry.

This is good but it can be more exciting, It can be more crazier than before if the reward system happens fast and in realtime within the gameplay. For instance, in Splinter Cell: Conviction or Blacklist in exchange of silent kills you’ll get the Mark & Execute. This will push you more toward the stealth and reward you with something that can be useful in action or stealth part of the game. It’s fast, you get marks with each kill and without any delay you get your reward within in the game. This is the beauty of that system. I killed 3 guys without even god notticing that and now I can Mark & Execute the next 3 guys like a boss! Bang! Bang! Bang! No delay in paying back.

This will give the gameplay more intensity and excitment. In these kinds of fast games like shooters you target people who wants to enjoy the game without confusion. Mostly casuals, They don’t give a damn how many stars or dogtags they have at the end of a level. All they want is to complete the game with them feeling badass!

Timing is very important, Ubisoft followed the same thing in Far Cry 3 but I guess it had some problems. The good thing was the player being rewarded in the game with items and abilities. The bad thing was some of those abilites was some essential elements of FPS games. Like carrying 2 guns at a same time. You have to hunt animals and do many things only to be able to carry 2 guns at a same time. It’s not fast enough, It’s not even that fair! Yes, of course it has a direct point towards the fact that Far Cry 3 is an open-world game and player has to explore it, but not by giving away the essentials and routine abilities from them. Instead I believe they could have come up with more exciting features. The whole reward system in that game (At least in the begining of the game) is not very much “Reward”, It’s more like ransom. Do these things and we’ll give you some of your natural rights. I’m happy they did a fantastic job in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. They followed the same routine but they didn’t repeat those mistakes. The speed, amount and the quality of the reward system in ACIV is so good that makes the player addictive to the new element of this game which has not been in the original structure of series (except AC III) which is Jackdaw, The ship.

 So timing and quality of rewards are two important thing. By rewarding the players as soon as they do something great, you give more values and meaning to your game. For instance in racing games this can be very crucial. In Bizzare Creations’ Blur you can catch new abilities by driving into different kind of icons and experience it instantly. In Need for Speed series if you look carefuly you can find detours which will reward you instantly by geting ahead of your opponants. Though these are core elements of Blur and Need for Speed but it’s that same reward you give to players by doing something out of ordinary.

  1. Collectable Items System:

 It became some sort of standard to have collectable items in your game so players would keep their eyes peeled to spot them and collect them through out the game. It can gives your game more value to repeat. Like it was said before, people love to collect items and 100% their games. It’s a great challenge but It’s not working for everyone. Some don’t care and some don’t have enough time to do that but how can you make your collect system so damn addictive that would enslave everyone to find those collectable items ?

 Collectable items on their own are very simple. If you link them to other elements of your game, it would give them more value. For instance treasures in Uncharted series or Dogtags in Gears of War are good but It could be better. It doesn’t have that much of an effect on the whole structure of the game. Now BioShock offers something more addictive. For instance in BioShock Infinite Voxophones are the collectable items and it’s been linked directly to the story of that game. Infinite is an story driven game so Ken Levine (Writer and Director) added lots of values to the story and Voxophones. Players would be rewarded quickly with pieces from story. History of Colombia, history of its iconic characters. Same thing is in Alan Wake with manusctipts. The good thing is story it being told verbally, so player doesn’t have to pause the game and read a long ass note which will bore you to death.

Collectable items can drown players into the game’s world. They would seek everywhere, they would go places other than their usual linear path. Consequently it means more interaction with that world. It makes your game longer, better and more beliavable.

 So Collecable items are very similiar to the Reward system but you can separate them and give each of them their own value and at the end it would give the game more depth.




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