Again, the idea of “next time” reappears, but it’s very different in this game. Rather than thinking ahead to next time in order to plan out a new strategy, your thoughts of the future will be how you can next progress. Maybe you’re ever-so-close to that next level, and you want to hit it before you go to bed for the night. You get your level, but now you see a chest off in the distance, so you decide to run over to it quickly before you go to bed. You find an amazing sniper rifle, but your skill level is a little low, so you decide to pop off some enemies before bed to get your skill up. Before long, hours have passed and you still have so much left that you want to do.
succeeds in being an engrossing game because it always gives you something to focus on to allow yourself to progress. You’re never at a loss for meaningful things to do, at least up until that nasty level cap. But while it lasts, Borderlands
will grab you, and it won’t let go.
So, these are obviously two very different games, and they go about grabbing hold of the player in very different ways. But the one thing that connects them is that they put the thought into the player’s head of “what’s next.” All games should do this, whether it’s with an incredibly engrossing story, a fantastic character progression system, a rewarding sense of difficulty, or any other quality at all that contributes to this feeling.
Any developer needs to approach the creation of a game with this idea in mind. It can’t just be something as simple as “Well, this waypoint will tell players where to go next!” That’s not at all what I mean. It needs to be a desire created in the player to know what’s next, and that desire needs to be strong enough to compel a player to either continue playing or to constantly thinking about playing next. It is what makes a game great, and what makes it memorable.
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