FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

THE REPLAYABILITY QUESTION

At first glance, the lack of replayability seems the greatest disadvantage of adven­ture games. Most adventure games consist of a sequence of puzzles, each of which has a single solution; when you know the solution, there's not much challenge in playing it again. An adventure game that requires 40 hours to finish the first time might take only 4 hours the second time.

To ameliorate this problem, consider making puzzle sequences or challenges that allow the player a choice of solutions. The consequences of the player's choices can affect not only the game she is playing but also the story itself. The player who chooses to blow up the gate blocking her way might accidentally hurt someone in the process and be chased out of town. The player who needs a specific key might have to steal it and be chased because she's a thief. Offering alternative solutions adds to the replayability of the game. Adventure game puzzle design and challenges are discussed later in this chapter.

In practice, however, replayability isn't much of a problem. Research shows that a great many players never finish these games at all; even if the game offers 30 or 40 hours of gameplay, many players play for only 15 or 20. This suggests that if they can't replay a 40-hour game for another 40 hours, it's unlikely to affect their pur­chasing decision. Provided that the game gives good value for the money the first time around, it doesn't necessarily need to be replayable.

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FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

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