Saturday, April 9, 2011

Interactive Objectives

Just about every video game has to have an objective. (I say just about because I'm sure if I said every someone would point out a game that really has no goal or point to it at all) Objectives give you a destination, a goal, a reason to do what the game designers want and a way to measure success before moving on to a new area.

Objectives like Collect X amount, Reach Location X, Defeat X Badguy are common and often piled together to form a sort of shopping list for players to check off. Some games let the player decide which objectives they want to achieve. Sandbox games will give a player an objective but let them find their own way to complete it. Other games allow for bonus objectives that you can chose to take on for more points or achievements. No matter what type of game, one thing is that most games are very much just pass/fail when it comes to completing objectives. You either made it or you didn't. What if you had the possibility of not making it, and still going on though?

What I'd suggesting is objectives in games that are given to the player to achieve, but can be uncompleted without making them redo the level. Picture a war game. You're given an objective to go through an enemy base and destroy 3 tanks before they escape. Now you play through the level but you only destroy 1 enemy tank before the rest leave. Normally this would mean you failed the mission and have to start over. But in this game, it just means that your destroyed 1/3 enemy tanks, and you continue on to the next mission. Your failure to destroy the tanks will have an effect on the rest of the game, or at least the next mission though.

Say you only destroyed 1/3 tank, that might mean that the enemy tanks went off and attacked an ally camp so the next mission is retrieving information from the destroyed camp behind enemy lines. Maybe if you only kill 2/3 tanks, in the next level you'd have to fight the tank that survived with the rest of the forces of that level. Didn't destroy any tanks? Well maybe your squad isn't up to the job and you'll be sent on a much easier mission.

Mission objectives would be given to you as a player based on your success rate in the first mission, and adapted after every mission from in succession. The game would get harder or easier depending on your success rate and what objectives you met or how badly you failed them. Keep falling short of the objectives? Looks like you need easier objectives, so next level you only have to defend the position for 3 minutes. Been kicking NPCs and taking objectives down like nothing? Looks like you need something more challenging, let's see if you can kill the big boss guy, and every minion on the level.