Irresistibility: Ensuring that choice does not cause wastage

In Brief

  • Creating choice may seem wasteful.
    • If the player selects one choice then s/he will never see the other.
  • The discarded options are effectively a waste of developer time and resources.
    • This section introduces the concept of irresistibility.
    • By making choices irresistible, the player will repeatedly replay a game to experience every option.

The problem of optional assets

Creating choices, requires the creation of ‘optional’ assets. This may seem wasteful as when the player selects one choice, s/he is ignoring the other.
Developers are divided over the benefits of creating such assets.

Robin Walker and Gabe Newell, the developers of Valve’s Half-Life series, argue that optional assets are a waste of time, as not all players will see them. The wasted time would be better spent ensuring that all players are experience the most enjoyable and interesting sections of the game.

Warren Spector, the developer behind Iron Storm’s Deus Ex , takes issue with Walker and Newell’s arguments. He claims that choice is a defining factor of videogames and without it, a game is merely an adrenalin-rush inducing roller coaster ride.

This produces a problem - optional assets enhance choice and realise the true potential of video games, but at the same time they result in developer time being spent on material that not all players will see.

Irresistibility: The solution to the problem of optional assets

By making optional assets ‘irresistible’, a game will be played multiple times, as the player will want to experience each instance of the optional assets. This allows a game to offer choice, but as the game will be replayed to experience all the choices, the assets will be seen by the majority of players.

Defining irresistibility

Irresistibility involves encouraging, but not forcing, the player to perform an action. As a result, irresistibility can only occur through optional content.

Both Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles contain good demonstrations of irresistibility. Each game has a high level of optional content. Examples include:

  • Secret routes (at least five per a stage)
  • Alternative routes (at least two per a stage)
  • Character specific routes (The games contain 2-3 playable characters. Each character can access unique routes that are not available to the others).
  • Shields (usually hidden) that give Sonic new abilities provided he does not take damage from an enemy.
  • Three different types of mini-game bonus stages. To access these, the player has to deposit enough rings into the star posts that occur in various locations through out the levels. This requires the player to explore the stage to find both the star posts and the required number of rings. Once the rings are collected, the player has to be skilled enough to reach the star post without losing the rings.
  • Mini-game Special stages – These are accessed through giant rings that are hidden in the levels.

These are all examples of optional assets, as the player has to make a choice to actively seek out the content. These optional assets are also ‘irresistible’, as they offer ‘new’ experiences. The player’s desire for these ‘new’ experiences motivates him/her to play the game multiple times to find the content.

◄◄ Previous Section Index for this page Next Section ►►
Choice from the Perspective of Developers (Section Index) Choice from the Perspective of Developers Irresistibly & New approaches to production


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