I have written a few reviews for digital roleplaying games (RPGs), but in many cases I find the label is completely inappropriate. When I think of a “roleplaying” game, I think of a game in which I take control and can make important narrative choices. But most digital RPGs don’t let you make narrative choices at all. For that reason I would say that the label of RPG has come to be associated with a mechanic which is common to most RPGs, but isn’t the attribute that makes them RPGs. The mechanic in question is that of leveling up, and I hate it*.
Today we are going to play pretend. We will pretend to be in the process of developing a game with the goal of being worth a particular price tag. Since we are ambitious, we want to be just like the AAAs and charge a hefty $60 for our game. But we are also familiar with the hours-to-dollars assessment people use to judge if the game provided enough entertainment to be worth the pricetag. If we use the price of a new DVD as a measuring stick we can guess that our players will want their entertainment on a 10:1 ratio ($20 = 2 hours of entertainment), so for our $60 price we’ll need to provide six hours of game time. That can be a lofty task for a single player game, so today’s article will be delving into the wonderful world of design mechanics/strategies to extend game time (for better or for worse).