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(process) 80-hour main quest

Started by droqen, December 09, 2021, 01:02:38 PM

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"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Super Mario Odyssey [14-28 hrs, 100%-ish] [main or main+extras.] - a 3D third-person platformer adventure game

A lot of platforming levels! A lot of little secrets are hidden about for you to find, and a lot of secret connections. The platforming itself does take time, and it's not always immediately clear where to go -- being lost and being careful and dying take up extra time, but the secrets that reward careful exploration mean you can also spend a lot of time poking at little corners, searching for extra coins or portals and whatnot.


Fuck, my eyes and brain hurt from all that pattern exercising.

QuoteStep 4. List and generalize your answers from step 3.

- Long games are patterned, moving from phase 1, to phase 2, then back to phase 1. For example, a game may alternate between combat and a visual novel. A lot of variety.

- Long games introduce major mechanics partway through.

- Long content-based games have a lot of content, and these pieces of content are differentiated

- Many long games utilize large chunks of non-interactive content.

- Dangerous areas with player death cause a player to play more carefully (taking more time) or die often (taking more time). Boss fights are the most extreme example of this.

- Distractions (side quests) which don't directly progress the main path.

- You can get lost in most long games. Part of the experience is often in figuring out "what now? where do I go next?"

- These games have secrets to find, which encourages a player to explore areas fully.


- The player usually has many choices, but by no means does the player have the opportunity to play any part of the game they like.

- There are gates where the player must do something in particular in order to progress, but other options are still available. As those options dwindle, this 'choke point' obstacle will take up more and more of the opportunity space. Often these obstacles are very difficult, and the player may dread taking them on, but eventually does anyway.


LAKES AND CANALS (****, by droqen)

In a longer game it is usually logistically necessary to create 'pools' of content so that a player can be presented with a reasonable number of choices at once. How is a player to be granted agency over this, without overwhelming them with choices they know nothing about?

In order to pace out content, the player should have a small playground that the player can come to understand without getting bored or overwhelmed ("lakes"), where one facet of this playground is the narrow channel that leads out of it, to the next place ("canals").

There is a point of tension which I cannot resolve -- some players wish to spend time in the LAKE while others want to hurry on to the next one. Boss fights are beneficial to players who wish to take their time and hang around, while very difficult boss fights are harmful to players who aren't enjoying their time and would rather carry on.

More design work to be done, here...

Dark Souls. Before the player can enter the Sewers, they must fight the Capri Demon, a difficult boss fight in a tight area. It's quite easy to wander around and not deal with this enemy at first, but as time goes on the "lake" shrinks and the "canal"

(I think this pattern needs a new name; it's less LAKES/CANALS and more 'spending time in an area until it's mastered, then expanding the world once this area is simple enough that i can handle the expansion'...)


Extrinsic Rewards - Superpattern

Given the freedom to move on, a player may skip mastering a piece of content and miss out on its depths.

In order to prevent a player from skipping difficult content, a designer may wish to require a player to, or reward a player for, engaging with it.