Why does it make fun?

This time I want to tell you what in my next game Dimension Rider will be fun and why this is fun. Last time I described the task of the game – moving as far as possible in endless levels while avoiding obstacles. Why should it make fun?

  1. Competition: Go further and be better than others (highscore lists).
  2. Improve yourself: a) Fast success (progress)
    b) Further development (experience points)
  3. Reward system / feedback: experience / money -> Better ships / items
  4. Discovery: Find new things (level) and unlock (items).
  5. Achieve progress: Despite continuous levels, they should be “beatable”. (Minimum goal) 
  6. Collecting: Achievements, skills and items

These are a few points to create fun for everyone. Some of them overlap partially. All are more or less on the instincts of the people due, for that matter, “generating fun and satisfaction”. Examples:

  • An individual who is better than others (competition), has a better chance to survive and reproduce.
  • Exploring new hunting grounds and habitable areas provides more living space, raw materials and luxury.
  • The accumulation of raw materials, tools and food allows to survive in hard times.

Thus, evolution has ensured that you feel good about it (have fun) if you are particularly good at such things, driving the individual to do just that. But I do not want to deal at this point too far from the topic – there is plenty of literature regarding evolution, biochemistry and psychology ….

I will look more closely at details when it comes to the implementation of respective components.

Particularly important is the feedback and that’s why I would like to address in more detail:There is not a great feeling when you have accomplished something heavy without the game making clear that this was a special performance. In addition, the game should react according to the accomplishments of the player to adjust the difficulty.At this point, a distinction between positive and negative “feedback loops” has to be done.

A positive loop corresponds to a pure reward system – if you are good, you will be rewarded and can continue or improve more easily in order to get even more rewards. Accordingly, a bad player get less rewards (or even “punishment”), making the game more difficult. This principle is often found in “endless games” like
Dimension Rider will be one.This has the advantage that a feeling of happiness can “escalate”, since it allows a steady increase. But it can be very depressing for beginners when it is extra heavy for them. So it is important to balance the whole game. This should be made possible in Dimension Rider primarily through more levels, in which you can start again on a new basis in order to ensure the long-term fun.

A negative loop is the exact opposite – this principle is trying to compensate for good as well as poor performance. The better a player is, the harder it is for him and vice versa. A prime example of this is Mario Kart. If a player leads the field, he gets worse items such as bananas. Is the player in one of the last positions, he gets very good items enabling it quick and easy to catch up again.So this principle has the advantage that it can keep the game at a certain level of success and thereby prevents that it is too hard or too boring for a player. In addition, players can duel each other with greater experience differences and different skills in multiplayer games. The disadvantage is, however, that this principle can feel extremely unfair and unrealistic and punishment for good gaming rarely affects fun promoting.

Well, we have an idea that should make fun. Can we get started now?
Hmm, actually there’s a lot of planning, but I am one of those people who prefer to start with something that by further planning won’t be changed (much) and go on planning while implementing further successively.

But how and with what we start then?
-> We need a development environment. And exactly this is the subject of the next article. Until then, dear reader. ^^

Original Post, Tuesday, 2nd June 2015