simoniker writes "As the latest in his Game Design Essentials series for Gamasutra, writer John Harris examines 10 games from the Western computer RPG (CRPG) tradition and 10 from the Japanese console RPG (JRPG) tradition, to figure out what exactly makes them tick. From the entry on Nethack: 'Gaining experience is supposed to carry the risk of harm and failure. Without that risk, gaining power becomes a foregone conclusion. It has reached the point where the mere act of spending time playing [most RPGs] appears to give players the right to have their characters become more powerful. The obstacles that provide experience become simply an arbitrary wall to scale before more power is granted; this, in a nutshell, is the type of play that has brought us grind, where the journey is simple and boring and the destination is something to be raced to. Nethack and many other roguelikes do feature experience gain, but it doesn't feel like grind. It doesn't because much of the time the player is gaining experience, he is in danger of sudden, catastrophic failure. When you're frequently a heartbeat away from death, it's difficult to become bored.' Harris' Game Design series has previously spanned subjects from mysterious games to open world games, unusual control schemes and difficult games."
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