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September 12, 2004

Burnout 3, rewards and game design

Yesterday I bought an Xbox and Burnout3. I was originally going to get B3 for the PS2, but bit the bullet and picked up an Xbox because of some upcoming games I'm interested in.
Burnout3:Takedown has an example of really smart game design in it, something that we (developers/designers) often overlook while making pretty graphics and big explosions.
Rewards, thats what I'm talking about. In Burnout3 unlocking 'stuff' is basically done with points and money, both of which can be earned by anyone who plays the game. You don't have to be a great player - you just have to play. Sure there's stuff that requires you win an event to unlock it, but theres a mass of stuff for the newcomer to unlock just through playing (even without winning).
It's all about rewarding the player before they stop playing. Sid Meier is one of the great proponents of this, I've heard him talk about reward schemes which keep the player hooked. Sids games are the best in the world at this, he really knows how to keep a player coming back to the game even when they should be in bed/at work/etc. Bruce Shelley is another who knows the importance of rewards (of course he worked with Sid for years, so it's not suprising).
Burnout3 does this nicely aswell. Rewards of new cars or new races every 5-10 minutes. These keep you playing in the short term because theres likely to be something new in the next 5-10 minutes, and it's what stops you turning the machine off. At the same time the loading screens show you distant rewards, along with information about how to attain them (e.g. earn $5,000,000 in crash mode). These longer term rewards are what keeps you coming back to turn the machine back on.
Take a look at your favourite (most addictive) games and ask yourself if they fit this pattern or not, you'll often find the best games are doing this without you even realising it's going on.

Posted by Zaph at September 12, 2004 09:40 AM

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Whoops - I deleted a trackback because I was asked to 'despam' the thing... and I misunderstood what that meant!

Here are the details of the trackback, from Jason Della Roccas IGDA page 'Reality Panic'

Title: Burning 40 Hours
Weblog: Reality Panic

I'm almost finished Burnout 3: Takedown. What a great game! All told, I'll probably play it a total of about 40 hours. Now, it should be noted that I've been a big proponent of the "short games are a good...

Posted by: Zaph (on behalf of IGDA) at October 8, 2004 08:32 AM

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