The Hidden Depth of Rewards

I can’t recall the number of times a feature or idea has been disregarded, due to the chance of it not being seen by the player. What annoys me most about this area of games in general, is that there’s more than core elements at play here, and players really do appreciate that level of polish and quality.

To help create a game that is constantly rewarding and fun, there are so many ways in which you can incentives players.


This is the obvious reward, something that benefits the player financially or progression through a level or ability-wise. There’s something really satisfying about earning lots of little items, constantly. Diablo II’s extensive drop system is deep, and makes some of the rather tedious combat, a lot more gratifying, by continually rewarding, with the chance of something unique and great being a possibility at any time; like a perpetual Las Vegas slot-machine.

Level Layout

Level layout can also reward the player in many ways too; shortcuts or alternate routes allow players to take advantage of their exploration off the main path. These paths can provide visual rewards such as awesome vistas, sights at previously unseen goodies or at events happening that they may have never known about. Alternate routes can also give the player an attacking advantage (i.e. getting around the back of a bunch of enemies, or being elevated for a great surprise attack), or the way around a hard confrontation or task.

Multiplayer Interaction

Community, friendship and general human interaction is always fun, because it’s as spontaneous as life itself. Every game different, every verbal exchange new-funny-piercing, endless amounts of possible new enemies or allies; it’s content you just CANNOT create. The best asset a developer has got is the game players; they produce the moment-to-moment content and, if the game is good, supply priceless amounts of marketing & game promotion to friends and family via word of mouth, which of course opens up the channels on the interwebs!

Tertiary Rewards

What is the price of great real-time scripted or organic events to help place the player in the moment? Subtle environmental additions like weather, lighting, ambient ai’s, scenery interaction and destruction? Extensive and subtle use of sound plays a HUGE part in tertiary rewards, it helps sell EVERYTHING your trying to do in a game. You can also reward the player with great story telling, unexpected events and just doing things differently…surprising the player again, it’s a lost art.

Tertiary Rewards, I guess, are really what people call “high production values”. It’s in this 3rd area, that a lot of developers either choose to neglect, or don’t have the time to, focus their efforts. They’re pushed by ever approaching deadlines and financial expectations.


About Haydn Dalton

Creative Lead 30 Years Developing Games

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