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  Contents

 Introduction
 A Closer Look
 Finale

 Printable version

 


While I was finishing my latest game, which is of the RTS genre, I would often compare it to Starcraft (as Starcraft is one of the genre leaders) and I wanted to understand the differences and similarities between the games. The majority of my comparisons were based around what the player would get out of each game and it lead me to understand a dichotomy that all games fall into. Games are based on either incrementally improving skills and strategies or on providing an overall experience that is usually a one-shot deal. The point of this looking at this dichotomy is to separate intent from implementation. A game can have replay value because it was intended to, or as a side effect of its implementation.

To easily refer to these diametric elements, Iíve labeled the first "progressive" and the second "experience". To be clear on how I see those terms applying, letís look at the definitions:

Progressive - Moving forward; advancing.

Progressive style games are based on elements that are general in nature and can be played repeatedly as the player learns different skills and strategies. Environments are normally generalized so that the player does not get saturated with unique imagery and can focus on the gameplay.

When I say "progressive", I don't mean to imply how the player will play the game in a manner that they progress through the game. I mean that the intent of the game is to give the player a varity of tools that they will progressively learn to use and play with under the game rules.

Experience - An event or a series of events participated in or lived through.

Experience style games are based on problem solving and unique situations. Whether in a detailed story or "wow factor" graphics and environments, the player is saturated with interesting places and is enticed to continue with hopes of new "wows" to be had. Experience games often donít have a lot of replay value because they are made to give one in-depth gaming experience and a lot of the challenges have been solved afterwards.

When I say "expereince", I don't mean to imply something that is short and repeatable. I mean to compare it on the intent again in the same way that viewing a movie is an experience. The topic of these labels is focusing on the intent of the design and what the player will get out of them. While this may seem similar to "being replayable vs. not being replayable" it is actually different from that as those are implementation issues, rather than the intent of the product. A game that is meant to be replayable but it implemented poorly may have no replay value, and this can't be put in the same category as a game that is intented to be played through once and is crafted to give the player a great experience while doing so.

Lets look at a few examples of both types:

Progressive

Experience

Quake

Kingpin

Tetris

Grim Fandango

Starcraft

Fallout

Pac-Man

Myst

 

Next : A Closer Look