Replay value vs one-time experience

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  • Hello,

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on this matter. The aspect of replay value, in terms of typical "one-time" experiences. By this i mean games similar to or in the genre as Limbo. How important (if at all) is it with replay value in a game like this?

    Have you played games like this, and craved to return only to play through it again? If so, why?

    I think its an interesting question, as many polished, high quality games i've played dont seem to actively encoruage to play the game all over again.

    So basically, how important is replay value in this genre for you?

  • Replay value is typically the focus for Arcade-style games like say.. Fruit Ninja or Street Fighter.

    For large scale RPG games which focus a lot on stats, builds and combat. I'd say they have replay value in it, just not as much as an arcade game.

    Short arcade games like Dance Dance Revolution can be said to have the largest replay value. This probably started with the Pay-per-play system most arcade games had in the early days. Those game developers needed a way for players to keep paying to play again and again.

    Old Arcade RPGs like D&D typically made the game very very hard, making players pay a lot to complete the game. But once you do complete the game, the replay little is less as you've already accomplished almost everything by finishing the storyline.

    This is seen again in modern day RPGs which give you mainly a long interactive story but they don't care much about replay value as much, as they earn money as a one-off payment and earn again through sequels.

    Games nowadays also like giving out developer kits for the community to create the replay value themselves.

    Simply put, if the completion of the storyline of the game and spoilers can take away the play value, then your game has little to no replay value.

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  • Thanks for the input! I think it really comes down to what genre it is, and of course what kind of target audience you're looking for. I discussed it over at GameDev, and got some really good thoughts;

    To start, I think it's hard to categorize Limbo very easily, at least when talking about the full experience of playing it. As for the gameplay itself, Limbo is just a puzzle platformer. The one thing that ties games across this genre together, and makes it reasonable to compare a game like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time to Limbo, is that they all rely on the thrill a player gets when they discover something organically by playing the game. There a lot of memorable moments like that in Limbo, like when you have to jump on a dead kid's body to get from one side of a pool of water to the other. There's no tutorial that says "Dead people make awesome lily pads! Give it a try!" It just comes to you. The latest Prince of Persia, based on the movie, had its own incredible realization moment, when you first realize you can use your ability to freeze water on a waterfall, and climb the waterfall like any other wall.

    The point is, these moments of discovery are like punch lines in a standup routine: They aren't as good the second time around. The designer employs subtle cues in the environment that guide the player gently to the solution of the puzzle, or even the realization that the player is in a puzzle (sometimes you don't even know that yet). As a result, the player thinks "OH! That's it! I figured it out!" and somewhere else in the world the designer is saying "Yeah! You suuuuuure did *wink!*" One bad side effect is that when the player starts his second playthrough, he tries to play from memory, because he thinks he already knows the answers to the puzzles. He has it tougher the second time around because he ignores the subtle cues and hints, and just screws around until he finally remembers. It's not as fun, and it's not what the designer wanted. Nobody wins.

    So when I played through limbo the second time, I did it as a speed run because I thought I knew all the puzzles by heart. I finished it in an hour, but I hadn't had as much fun the second time and, as is to be expected, I kept constantly thinking to myself "How the hell did I figure this out the first time?" I didn't know, but it was just the excellent design. Since I kept focusing on trying to remember the solution the second time, I ignored a lot of the hints the designer had thrown at me, so I was completely stumped. Ultimately, I think Limbo really nailed it in terms of subtle design cues and flow of gameplay. But, it's also a perfect case study of what can and will go wrong with that design style when you play through it multiple times.

    A very good read imo!

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