Lightning Mailbag: Not About Gamescom

I’ve built up a number of questions that I thought I could answer quickly in one post, so here we go.

You talked about Intrinsic x Extrinsic rewards. Can you talk about Intrinsic rewards from an accessibility standpoint? It seems to me that Extrinsic rewards are inherently more accessible, while Intrinsic rewards may elude some players completely. How do you deal with that?

You’re assuming that an intrinsic reward might require some amount of manual dexterity, but that isn’t necessarily the case. For example, there was an older game from 2011 called Magicka, where players played as wizards and would cast spells by composing them from eight different elements (e.g. fire, water, cold, life, lightning, shield, etc.). Various spells were the result of specific elemental recipes (e.g. life + shield + cast = healing mine). The intrinsic rewards in Magicka were learning which recipes mapped to which useful spells, either through experimentation, external research, or finding in-game recipes. Intrinsic doesn’t have to mean physical dexterity, it means the player learns something and now knows when that bit of knowledge applies. This can easily apply to a turn based game with zero execution involved.

What is the role of achievements with relation to extrinsic/intrinsic rewards? What do they provide that cannot be otherwise given?

Achievements themselves are extrinsic. The skills (sometimes) used to complete them are intrinsic. 

Food question! Despite how far animation has gotten in games, why do eating and drinking animations still look and feel awkward?

Humans are intimately familiar with food and eating, which makes the missing minute details tend to stand out to us. Eating animations would require a significant amount of fidelity not to look weird, which is often far more resources than we’re willing to spend. As an example of a game that did spend those resources, check out Final Fantasy 15′s food content.

What’s the reasoning behind making games to a target audience who doesn’t even play video games?

If I can persuade non-gamers to give my game a try, I won’t have a lot of competition to get compared to, so I won’t have to spend resources building table stakes features or one-upping a competitor in my marketing campaign.

I haven’t seen too many western gacha games compared too the litany of them from japan and china. Given how much money so many of them make (in the west as well as in asia) can you think of any reasons why more of them haven’t been made/ broken through to popular culture (excluding FIFA and Marvel Strike Force).

Collectible Card Games are the original western gacha.

For as long as gaming has been around, devs have mentioned being unable to execute concepts because of technical limitations (meaning the hardware they worked with wasn’t able to execute a feature they want). Is that still an issue now?

Yes. Game development will grow to fit its limitations, like a goldfish will grow to a size relative to the environment it lives in.

A common solution I’ve seen proposed to reduce crunch is to switch from the commonly used salary system to hourly compensation. The theory being that because doing standard crunch hours would result in them spending way more with hourly pay than they would with salary, ergo meaning they work you guys less. Your thoughts on this solution?

When I was contracting for a major publisher, I was paid hourly like the other contractors. I worked so many overtime and doubletime hours crunching on that project that I literally worked myself into the next tax bracket. My personal weekly record of 98.5 hours worked in a week was while I was being paid hourly - that’s how I know it was exactly 98.5 hours. I don’t think hourly pay would change much.

I was surprised to see the Ubisoft Avatar game being postponed and it looks like it’ll miss the movie launch window tie in. What are your thoughts on this?

Historically, a movie tie-in missing the premiere of the movie it’s tying into is a death sentence for its sales. I wish them a lot of luck, they’re going to need it.

What’s the most common style used in concept art?

“House Style”

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