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What are game play elements that keep players invested in the game?
akabear Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
As the title says, what are elements that make a game keep players invested / staying in a game for the long term?
Which is why I'd really love to see RvR-type warzone hotspots that you can capture within half an hour, affecting the influence of your guild/node on other nodes, but without immediately threatening the ownership of an area. It would allow for constant meaningful PvP/RvR combat for those who seek it, but large-scale battles would still be scheduled and less frequent.
I'm sure for the average Ashes player the motivation will mostly be perfecting their skill rotations for PvE and 1v1-PvP, and clearing PvE challenges to collect crafting ingredients, improve their gear to the highest possible tiers, and trade.
It's how the communities end up in most games.
It'll be a bit more interesting in Ashes though, because PvE will impact politics and node growth as well.
Sense of community[inside the gameplay aspects(generalized)],
[and how long it continues to be engaging/enjoyable + the frequency of content released(individualized)]
and the last one would probably be its gameplay Uniqueness in relation to its contemporary games, but that's abstract and debatable.
Aren't we all sinners?
Taming and Breeding
Community forged in conflict, I am not interested in holding hands with most of the player base to kill a dragon. Want it for me and my group. I’m here for the fight.
That’s it really, everything else is secondary.
When you say 'keep players invested' I assume you're not talking about the player type that logs in every day for a social reason, especially not in this era of Discord where they could log into their Guild's chat without ever logging into the game.
And probably can't be talking about the feelings that most combat parts of games bring, since those games are a mental 'slot' that is normally replaceable by some other game, which means it must offer unique combat or opponents, which is currently unlikely.
So immersion, because it 'creates a space within the mind that has its own structure' and 'nostalgia', which is somewhat related. Once that 'space' has been created, one gets the urge to return to it. If the game is consistent, then the logical player can think through whether or not logging into the game will return them to that space or not ('dead' games, for example, have usually lost this over a long time - often through changes meant to make things 'easier', but shallow games tend to 'run out of it' quite early).
I recognize that these aren't 'game play elements' but that's because it really could be anything as long as it fulfills these conditions, and MMOs are among the least limited. All the Developer has to do is make sure that whatever a player is experiencing for the first few hundred hours doesn't 'fizzle out' too much beyond that, and that the worldbuild/play loop manages to hold a 'special place in the player's heart' or similar, so that they occasionally yearn for it.
"Yearning to return" + "nothing quite like it" + "ability to reason that the game is still equal to the experience you wish to return to" = "Retention"
MMOs have the problem of needing to have all that stuff for a larger critical number of people than most other games, but every game has their specific challenges in this equation.
A few examples from WoW;
- That sense of anxious feeling that I may be jumped at any moment by some PKs while farming in a distant dungeon, giving you chills and letting your hands go cold...
- Owning a unique piece of land and building on it as I desire on the actual map where others can visit...
- Putting up an NPC vendor to sell my loot and crafted items, and spending hours visiting other player vendors to find that silver vanquishing katana for the right price...
- The leveling mechanics that keeps me excited as I progress, those 0.1 skill point dings when you're at 95 and the count-down to 100 begins...
I love to experience how different classes are played. How to navigate the game world and find the hidden paths and strange locations. I don't know how often I got distracted by a cave entrance is Skyrim while travelling for a quest. I can't explain the urge to go... everywhere, in Dying Light.
I love piecing the world history through the quests and other clues left here and there.
But I'm not a completionist. Once I've got enough to understand how things fit together there is a diminishing return to look for more pieces. More hassle than fun. So no need to play every classes to max level to get how they're played. Not need to repeat the same dungeon over and over again.
That's also, in part at least, why I'm not interested in raiding, too much repetition. Gear is only power/numbers, I prefer knowledge (experienced). In Diablo, I loved to clear a floor, remove the fog of war, I never even considered doing boss run. Once I've done a dungeon 2-3 time I ready to move on.
But there is such a thing as too much new mechanics. I got fed up quite soon of Red Dead Redemption because almost all new mission/activities felt like a tutorial. New things good, no need for mastery bad.
PvP, because it can be different each time, takes a way longer time to feel repetitive to me.
But mostly, I like PvP. Not ganking-PvP. But roaming group v group PvP or objective based group PvP. Node attack and Castle PvP are great too, but those are looking like they'll be once-every-few-days events. And that's just not enough. Caravans? We'll see
I can understand how some people dont like large raids due to the drama, but if you are in a guild where drama just isnt a thing, there is no better experience in gaming, imo.
I've personally yet to find any PvP content that keeps me interested in a game. To me, if you have castles as an example, you siege, win and then just defend every cycle. Constantly just defending a castle isnt actually dun or compelling gameplay. It is incredibly repetirive.
Same with arenas and such, before long you get to know everyone in your bracket, and fights just get stale.
At least with PvP, every new encounter added to the game is literally something completely new. While an individual encounter may get stale and repetitive, the ability to just as a new encounter means the content as a whole never does.
That ability to add a new encounter every month is not something I've seen an equivalent of in PvP.
I think UI can play a really important part and making systems fun to navigate whilst trying to avoid just endless menu spam and achievement notifications blinking and buzzing like some kind of slot machine.
Well-crafted skill trees and achievement menus that allow you to clearly see character progression.
Combat and PvP are like two diamonds on a ring man, they lead to communities, conflict, strife, struggle, amusing guild drama.
It just tickles me, schadenfreude.
It's a hard question, each individual has their own personal preferences. The MMORPGs I played for the longest time had a few things in common though: fun all around, exciting PvP & PvE content and I played with real life friends.
Out of these three, two are subjective and one won't ever happen again
The following are also subjective, but I personally "just" want Ashes to:
Examples would be housing that my account characters use and add to like SWG, permanent skin unlocks like in GW2, the Legacy system in SWTOR etc. Something that shows the work I've put in on the game across all my characters.
We were irrelevant on the map, and only once in a while got to make an impact, but we kept putting up our resistance, because it's fun to see how far you can get.
That's not something you need the game to do for you, that's just a decision you make. (Losing? Well, we can take the scraps and stand on the sidelines until more people on our side/log in again. Perhaps spend some time motivating people to join the fight.)
In my opinion, if the game itself has fun combat, it's entirely up to the players to coordinate with their allies and make the most of being outnumbered. If you can't do that, no coping mechanisms facilitated by the devs will keep you playing in spite of disadvantages for more than a week anyway.
-Combat being the right balance of complex and fun-
-Deep Lore that is thought out and tells a story for years to come
-World content that is rewarding and creating a desire for people to be out in the world and not just city hubs
-Consistent updates so players aren't out of things to do in 6 months
-Focus on Guilds and Group effort- as opposed to single player gameplay/priority
There are several ways that MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) can stay engaging for players over a long period of time. Here are some strategies that game developers often employ:
Rich and Evolving Content: Continuously adding new and meaningful content is crucial to keeping players engaged. This includes regular updates, expansions, quests, dungeons, and other activities that expand the game world and provide fresh experiences. Offering a variety of content types, such as PvP (Player vs. Player) modes, raids, crafting, exploration, and story-driven quests, caters to different player preferences.
Player Progression and Achievement: Providing a sense of progression and accomplishment is important for player engagement. A well-designed leveling system, character customization options, skill trees, and a wide array of gear and equipment can motivate players to invest more time in the game. Additionally, rewarding players for their achievements with unique items, titles, or cosmetic rewards can foster a sense of pride and incentivize continued play.
Social Interaction and Community Building: MMORPGs thrive on social interactions. Encouraging players to form communities, guilds, or alliances promotes social connections and enhances the overall experience. Features like in-game chat, guild systems, player housing, and cooperative gameplay mechanics strengthen the sense of belonging and foster long-term engagement.
Dynamic World Events: Hosting special events or limited-time activities in the game world creates a sense of urgency and excitement. These events can be tied to the game's lore, holidays, or community milestones, and often offer exclusive rewards or unique gameplay experiences. They provide a reason for players to return to the game and participate in shared experiences.
Competitive and Cooperative Gameplay: Balancing both competitive and cooperative gameplay elements appeals to different player preferences. Engaging PvP systems, such as arenas, battlegrounds, or open-world PvP zones, cater to players seeking a competitive challenge. On the other hand, cooperative gameplay through group dungeons, raids, or large-scale battles against powerful enemies fosters teamwork and camaraderie.
Player Feedback and Iteration: Listening to player feedback and regularly updating the game based on player input is crucial. Developers should actively communicate with the community, address concerns, and implement changes that enhance the player experience. Regular patches and updates not only fix issues but also show a commitment to improving the game over time.
Endgame Content and Long-Term Goals: Providing meaningful endgame content ensures that players have goals to strive for even after reaching the maximum level. This can include challenging raids, high-level dungeons, legendary items, or leaderboard rankings. By offering a variety of long-term goals, MMORPGs can retain players who seek continuous challenges and progression.
Overall, maintaining an engaging MMORPG requires a combination of compelling content, social interactions, player progression, and a commitment to ongoing updates and improvements based on player feedback. By creating a dynamic and evolving world, developers can keep players invested and entertained for a long period of time.
Various leaderboards give people a reason to re-do content in a competitive way. Speedruns, completing group content with the least # of people, most kills, least deaths, races, etc.
Nodes (or guilds) especially sound like a great place for leaderboard "competition" to happen. Bosses killed in node, pvp stats, most gems mined in a week, etc. Low key inter-node rivalry. BTW, not what happens IN the node, but what is done by the node Citizens
Yes, leaderboards can be gamed, but that's part of the fun too, as long as it's not too easy to figure out or do
Ashes of Creation will have many systems that tie in with one another, which will keep players invested, I believe.
The story arc, event, and node systems to list a few of many will all interact with one another to make player and guild agency and choices very important. In doing so, I believe players will naturally be invested in the story that plays out on any given server
I really enjoy well written bits and pieces about the world and finding them. I never really got why people would spoil the game for themselves by reading guides and it was probably one of the reasons why I quit WoW. There was an expectation for players new to a raid dungeon to have read the whole guide for all the bosses and having distinct knowledge and plans for which loot they are here for. That had little to do with a gaming experience but ticking boxes on a check list of chores to be honest. Which is why I am glad that Ashes aims to at most have "micro metas" and limited content access, which hopefully will result in players dispensing with acting like NPCs, replicating things they have read in a guide but rather discover the world for themselves and come up with their own solutions to challenges.
The first and most important pillar for me, above all other aspects of the game is combat. Combat is engrained into most if not all of the games I play and without it being engaging I am extremely unlikely to stick around for a long enough time to build lasting social bonds and therefore unlikely to sink time into the game. This happened to me with ESO and I have not picked the game up since, I gave the game a fair shot, but the tab combat gave me nothing that I haven't felt before in other games that delivered their tab target combat better such as WOW or GW2 (Albeit somewhat a hybrid).
In most RPG games I have played for any length of time. If I find the AI to be intuitive with depth to the combat that allows for skill expression I'm sold. I spent hundreds of hours playing Spellbreak purely based on the engaging encounters I had every time I picked up the game. It's also worth noting that the studio responsible for creating Spellbreak were acquired by Blizzard and had a large part to play in the development of Dragonflight, which is honestly the best expansion I have played for a very long time in wow. I have been sold within the first hour or two based on combat alone for games such as Monster Hunter, Spellbreak, GW2, Elden Ring, Zelda (BOTW), God of War, SWTOR. Most of these games have differing playstyles, but all of them I found had great AI, animations, VFX & SFX that rounded out the overall combat experience, their design choices atleast to me made the combat feel very dynamic, keeping me coming back day after day for months and sometimes years on end.
The second Pillar for me that comes in at a close second to combat is social interaction, of course this does not apply to some of the games mentioned above, however I would not have played some of the online games long enough to have built friendships if it was not for the combat hooking me in the first place. Simply joining a guild is not enough in today's age of MMO in my opinion, I've joint plenty of guilds and had 0 interaction with other players. I'd confidently say that 95% of the social interactions I have had in my favourite MMO's has revolved around the common goal of killing something to get phat loot. And again, without good combat, I don't want to kill things and therefore don't have social interactions. The other 5% I'd say were interactions that involved gathering / processing In some capacity.
The third and final pillar for me is a combination of world building, immersion and exploration. I could go on for pages about all three of these pillars. But ultimately they are the three most important to me. For this point I'm going to just break it down into bullet points otherwise I'll be here all night.
- Lore / Universe
- Storylines / Story Quests
- Quests that build the players knowledge of the area
- Cinematics *Edit* "I think cinematics are an absolute key form of character, story and world development that has the added bonus of getting potential players invested in the game."
- Iconic Characters & Enemies (The Lich King, Kratos, Link etc)
- Awe inspiring vistas, buildings & locations
- Scale of terrain (If you think it's big enough, go bigger heh)
- Variety of NPC's appropriate to the location
- Skybox (Current Skybox looks incredible)
- NPC interactions in the wild (E.G Travelling Merchants, Ambushes, Injured / Dead Adventurers)
- Treasure Chests / Treasure Maps
- Wanted Posters
- Factions (That the player can join, E.G Thieves Guild)
- Iconic Music / Sound (Elwynn Forest / Skyrim SFX for entering combat)
- Voice acting
The rest of the game usually comes as bonus to me that I complete on the side. Gathering, professions, collecting, mounts, armour, character progression. These are all meaningless without the above pillars being in place. As noted, combat is king. This month's livestream is absolutely pivotal for me.