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Loot Theory In Modern Games 111

HDRL is running an analysis of loot systems in modern games. They talk about how in-game rewards, formerly the domain of RPGs and adventure games with powerups, have expanded to exist in every genre, as achievements and unlockable bonuses have become standard fare. "For the majority of gamers, once the novelty is gone, they move on. To keep players interested, rewards are required. ... The Diablo series is a perfect example of the theory in effect. Just as in the story of the donkey and the carrot, a game's rewards cannot be too frequent, nor can it be too infrequent. If rewards are too frequent, they lose value in the eyes of the player, and they lose interest. If the rewards are too infrequent, the player loses sight of the carrot, and likely loses motivation to keep playing."
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Loot Theory In Modern Games

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  • It really is true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Lode ( 1290856 ) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @11:49AM (#24998543)
    On Newgrounds, many of the new flash games posted there have an achievements system, it's like they have to have it these days. And that is a good thing imho, I enjoy getting these too. The game will have more play value for me due to wanting to achieve these things. It's not like we're drones made to play games right? The achievements make it fun, and that's good. Right?
  • Loot? No Loot? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @11:54AM (#24998589)

    I like using other peoples loot. I also like making my own loot.

    Games like that are ones that allow hacking around with the game to make new mods and redesign the game.

    Who here still lays Mechwarrior 3? Betcha not many. Now, how many play Total Annihilation? Knowing about the multitude of mod sites and Spring, quite a lot.

    There's no unlockables in TA, other than mission mode and the tiers of technology, but that's expected in RTS'es. There's no hidden 3rd faction or hidden maps.

    And trust me, loading a completely new mod on the network and playing 6 friends on a mod that we've never seen is crazy as hell in a great way.

  • by djsmiley ( 752149 ) <> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @12:10PM (#24998699) Homepage Journal

    The game its self (story wise) can be ran through in a matter of hours... but then you can re-run the whole game over and over getting better equipment etc so you end up better/stronger/faster.

    I know its a old idea, but its strange to see how well it still works. Also crazy how many people will just grind hours away going for one item which pops in huge rarities... (I remember spending weeks in parts of everquest trying to get said items off random bosses) and I'm pretty sure this must still happen in things like wow?

    Really, where is this going to take us? I tend to wonder how this is going to change in the future, or will we always just be looking for the next great bit of loot? - Sounds like the other artical posted other day which basiclly said people grind for higher levels, when in reality i think better items are a far more lucritive reward.

  • by Puffy Director Pants ( 1242492 ) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @12:30PM (#24998837)
    Total score!

    Really, who didn't do things like try to land on the 3,6,9 timer for Super Mario Bros? Who needs a study for that?
  • by Kandenshi ( 832555 ) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @12:45PM (#24998951)

    I'm pretty sure this must still happen in things like wow

    The problem with such stuff in WoW and such games is that the really great loot drops when you're not around []. You hear about how a friend of a friend recently got [insert awesome item] and drool. Even if you didn't get that item, the fact that you're reminded that it's around, and that OTHER people are finding it keeps your hopes up. We're like rats in a big room lever pressing for snacks. Other rats getting one is a "reward" of sorts for us, and keeps us working hard in the hopes of being similarily rewarded.

  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @05:54PM (#25001879)

    That's what I hate about CoD4. When you start, not only it's hard to fight more experienced player, but on top of that they have better weapons, perks and all that. So what happens is that you're really widening the gap between experienced players, which means the "noobs" get "pwned" a lot more than they naturally should. I think that sort of system is pretty weak, and it calls for a rethinking of it.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about removing that sort of promotion, or even reversing it. No, rather, I think it has to be approached differently. I won't solve the problem in 5 minutes of thinking time, but an idea could be instead of giving you an edge that makes you an even more deadly killing machine than you already were, you could gain access to new skills, no responsibilities, new capabilities that wouldn't make you more deadly a soldier but nevertheless achieve new things by gaining strategical advantages, i.e. you could gain some sort of intelligence and leadership others don't get so you could turn into a sort of leader. If you look at it, in CoD4 as you climb the rank ladder all you get is better guns and such. They could at least get some inspiration from reality, when you become a colonel in the Marines they don't reward you with an AK-47 and better ammo.

  • good or bad (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2008 @06:18PM (#25002135)

    While yes it helps with the replay value it also creates a culture that is constantly looking for more frequent rewards in the game. I have seen the older game not really care either way over this new reward system; the one that grew up with out it. However, I have seen the younger gamers become overly obsessed with it to the point that they will not play games with out this reward system in the game. Good or bad, I guess time will tell.

  • by MagicDude ( 727944 ) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:38PM (#25003679)
    You should play City of Heroes. The core gameplay isn't centered around loot per se (though some of the recent expansions have introduced a system of optimizing your character with "salvage"), but is more of the kind of story you'd expect from being a super hero - fly around and bring righteous justice upon the criminal element. On top of that, there is a fairly good story system, where you make contacts who take you on story arcs where you ferret out conspiracies, do hostage rescues, timed bomb disarm missions, etc. The accomplishments are in earning medals and badges for completing some of the larger task force missions or other similar tasks. I found COH a lot more fun when WOW in that WOW people aren't in it to enjoy themselves it seems, it's all about leveling up to get to a high enough level to do raids to get the good loot. When my WOW characters were low level (under 20), I found that nobody was interested in grouping to do the missions from the starting towns ("Does anybody want to do the mission to kill the troll chieftain?" "Go to hell noob"). When I posed the question of how to go about getting small pick up groups on the WOW message boards, I was basically told that unless you're in a guild, nobody will want to team with you, and that I should just grind my character up to level 25 so I could start doing some of the upper level raiding. COH seemed much better for casual gaming and to do pick up groups, and there's no greifing or fighting over loot.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.