Wednesday, November 11, 2009

progression through failure

I just want to emphasize a point I made the other day. Players can, and generally should, progress even as they fail.

You can see this in games like Diablo 2 and Borderlands. When you die, you don't lose the experience points you gained on the way to your goal (such as killing a boss mob).

That ensures, in a natural way, that players will eventually overcome any challenge. Failure doesn't mean reset. You're always progressing.

The frustration a player feels in response to failure is nothing compared to the frustration of being stuck. The player must always feel like he or she is making progress... even when that player is performing poorly.


  1. Eh... to a point. If a game is designed such that I eventually will succeed no matter how badly I play, I find it boring because I don't have to try to win, I know I will eventually.

  2. Well, one option is to have multiple avenues of progressions (story, skills, environment, stats, gear, etc) and ensure one has a relatively set difficult independent of the others.

    So there might be a set challenge in, say, managing dialog and alliances to advance the story; meanwhile, the player is able to continue advancing in gear and wealth.

    Plus, advancement can mean more options, rather than objective improvements. Getting new skills and new gear can be fun without becoming more powerful.


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