As part of the educational game project my team was working on we were required to build a reward system. This system took the form of a trophy room which would display trophies that players had earned. After playtesting though we found we had created an expectation for treasure which we were not fulfilling. The following is a gameplay video where our players would collect treasure chests at the end of each level.
So in order to fulfill this expectation we created additional art assets which we would use to fill up our empty room. We faced a dilemma in this regard. We did not want to force players to see treasure added to the room at the end of every level. This would be far too disruptive to the game experience. So how does one fulfill the expectation of reward without forcibly having the player see the reward appear?
Well one thing helped us in this regard. We already designed fixed reward intervals through the trophy system which forced players to go to the trophy room and observe the new trophy being added to the trophy room.
In our experience we had periods of fixed visitation where the player would be guaranteed to be seeing the Trophy Room. Looking at the experience more methodically we were giving trophy’s at the following intervals (we had thirty levels).
One and thirty were absolutely necessary since they began and ended the experience. The others were decided based on difficulty curve which was designed in previous weeks. Again we asked ourselves the question. How does one fulfill the expectation of reward without forcibly having the player see the reward appear?
The answer we came up with was surprise. What we would do is add treasure to the room based on the progress of the player, and that treasure would be added in intervals between the fixed trophy intervals. This we hoped would:
- Create a surprise if the player visited before a fixed trophy interval
- Show a sense of treasure progress as it builds through the experience
- Complement the trophy award
We realized something else important as well. That the first trophy reward needed to be given a complementing treasure reward. Why? In the hopes to create, and fulfill our players Golden Expectations!
Now with an idea our awesome programmer Carl programmed it all up choosing fairly equal intervals of two between each trophy reward.
The result was distributed rewards throughout the experience with what we hoped would be an element of surprise. On top of that we made the decision to hand out the six trophies we had randomly, we did this due to the likelihood of the game being played in a group setting and we though that multiple people getting different rewards would add excitement and surprise.
Ideally we could have three empty chests, to start with, but given the limited time we had we made the Trophy room entirely empty.
- Create reward expectations when you can
- Fulfill the expectations that you create!
- Incorporate elements of surprise!