Over at The Game Prodigy, Brice has posted a thoughtful, extensive essay on long term incentive in game design.
Striving for a Goal
In well-designed games, the reason that players continue to play is because the player is seeking something. They are striving after a goal. The goal doesn’t need to be as explicit as you would think; it doesn’t even need to be very important to the player. In fact, the player may not even be consciously aware of the goal that is driving them. But there is a goal, an Incentive, for them to keep going after.
… If there is no Long Term Incentive, then the game is not really a full game. These types of experiences are more like toys. The player explores the actions they can do (Base Mechanics), they investigate the relationships between the actions and feedback (P&R Systems), and they enjoy the content (Aesthetic Layout), but then they are…finished. There is nothing more to learn, nothing more to do. Everything has already been done.
– The Game Design Canvas by Brice @ The Game Prodigy
The idea that games without long-term incentive are “more like toys” strikes me as a particularly keen insight.
And timely! Thanks for the Christmas gift, Brice!