For my second post, I’d like to talk about about Progression in games. Before I get into that, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who read and made some comments on my first post about Immersion. I will be making some replies there shortly. People have different tastes and impressions in games. I really liked reading the replies from people on this!
Progression exists in many different forms so I will talk about it generally. It is important because the players can see the reward for their time spent in the game. It can keep people engaged in the game and longevity in games is always a good thing to have.
Progression is having goals and how the player achieves them. What is their purpose(s) in the game? How do they fulfill their purpose(s)? By having good progression, it keeps players involved in the game. People, especially gamers, like to strive towards something. They like to set themselves a goal in a game and then achieve it. Put simply, this can be seen as the “carrot on the end of the stick”.
4X games for example offer several different forms of progression (more on this below): empire expansion, ship design, and technology/research to name a few. To me, one of the greatest joys in playing a space 4X is watching my empire spread out amongst the stars. I love building massive fleets and “incorporating” lesser civilizations into my own. MMORPGs generally have a lot of progression: gear based, skills, encounter based and so on.
As mentioned above, most gamers like to improve themselves and do better. They want to gain that next level, or that next technology for their ships. They strive to achieve these goals. It creates an environment that makes the player’s time well spent and encourages them to play longer. The excitement level and desire of getting something keeps them interested.
Progression rewards the players. That is why the typical experience and leveling system in MMORPGs hasn’t gone away (TOR is reported to have a very strong and lengthy leveling experience). It is very easy to understand and gives great results. “Hey I gained a level and got some new abilities!”. You now have something you didn’t before. In 4X games, technology is a great example of this. Researching a new plasma cannon that can be placed on your ships: the excitement level grows with each click that increases the number of plasma cannons. Imagine the damage it will deal to your enemies! Or acquiring shields for the first time and knowing (hoping) that the enemy would not be able to deal with them.
Even though the developer may place progression in a game, it does not discount the fact that players make their own progression (sometimes unknowingly). In a 4X game, there could be an instance where a particular planet is “ultra-rich” in ore and it would be vital for the player to acquire that. Perhaps this planet is controlled by an enemy empire with a strong defensive presence. This situation can set off an entire chain of small goals leading up to the eventual attack on the planet. The player just created a small progression system.
Next, I would like to provide a humorous real life example. In MoO1/2, I always played as the Psilons. I enjoyed having a large tech edge (plasma cannons, anyone?). I always got very displeased with the Darloks stealing my technology. So, I made it my mission to show them what eXterminate really means in 4X.
Other forms such as victory conditions and achievements helps too. The boundaries are really endless and each game can have their own progression and be unique. That is the beauty of games. I want to throw out one warning: do not make the progression overly difficult or time consuming. A fine balance must be done to ensure that the players do not feel the time spent is not worth what is earned (or will be).
As with the previous article, I want to give an example of how I achieved progression. I will again use the MUD for my example (I’ll use my own 4X game when it gets farther along). During character creation, a player could choose one of two skill paths to travel down. Each path had 10 skills. They then could select 7 of the 10 skills and these would be gained in 5 level increments. This was a good system because it allowed the player to set their own goals with gaining skills at certain levels. Then they wanted to use them and so the player had to work to attain them. This created a small progression system that encouraged people to play more.
This finishes up my second article about the two aspects I feel are that important to me: Immersion and Progression. I hope you enjoyed reading it and thinking about games and their development in slightly different ways. As with the post on Immersion, I would like to hear your thoughts and comments (I’ll try to reply faster this time). Finally, if anyone has a request for a future topic on an article, let me know and I’ll consider it.
dayrinni has been a Space Sector contributor since October 2011. This is his first foray into writing articles for any review site. He is an avid gamer in the genres of 4X, Strategy, MMO’s and RPGs. Finally, he has been the implementor of several MUDs and is currently working on a 4X space game that offers large scope and complexity. See all dayrinni’s posts here.Subscribe RSS
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- What Makes A Good Game – Story
- What Makes A Good Game – Immersion
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