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Spam Spam Spam Humbug 81 - Gameplay Features: Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em
May 24, 2017

Spam Spam Spam Humbug 81 - Gameplay Features: Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em

We take a look at gameplay features — NPC schedules, day/night cycles, and other systems — and their impact on one's enjoyment of a game.

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This episode of Spam Spam Spam Humbug is brought to you by our Patreon backers; thank you to everyone who supports Spam Spam Spam Humbug and the Ultima Codex by that means. And, as always, a hearty thank you to our Patreon co-producers: Seth, Dominik, Chris, Violation, Adam, Avatar's Radio, Erik, Thorwan, Pascal, Neil, Helgraf, Aaron, the Hearth of Britannia, Edward, Stirring Dragon, and Cranberry.

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We have two big shout-outs to give to backers this week. Firstly, we want to say thank you to Stirring Dragon, who has been a “behind the scenes” figure of the podcast for a while now. He recently bumped his pledge level, for which we are very grateful.

And we have a new backer as well...we say both thank you and welcome to Cranberry, whom you'll remember from a few episodes that she has turned up for.

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Podcast Topic(s)

This was a bit more of a systems-level discussion...not a pure technical discussion, but definitely focused on the design side of gaming. We take a look at the side effects of gameplay features (e.g. NPC schedules, day/night cycles, monster level scaling), and note the impact these can have on a player's overall enjoyment of a game. Because while they sound like good things on paper, a lot of these systems can result in mixed feelings on the part of gamers.

For example: it's not always desirable to lose the ability to go back and “farm” earlier content for certain items, or for experience. There's a certain entertainment value — and a certain catharsis — to being able to go back and utterly demolish weak opponents in overly dramatic ways.

Or, consider NPC schedules: when you need a particular item from a particular shopkeeper — or, worse, when you're critically wounded, and poisoned, and in desperate need of a healer — and the NPC you need to talk to not only has gone to sleep, but will refuse to transact with you even if you do wake him up (because his store is closed), that can be a significant blocker, and put a bit of a dark cloud over your enjoyment of an game's “immersive sim” aspects.

We also ask: if a game developer implements a game mechanic that is exploitable, but then after realizing it is, fails to fix it for an extended period of time, does that mean they are condoning exploiting that mechanic?

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