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  • Prasad C A

Understanding Player Motivation: Why should we target them in quest design?

Targeting the Player's Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation while designing quests will improve the player's experience.

What do we want as a developer? To design engaging and immersive experiences for the players. We are the directors of our own game. If we want them to experience any particular emotion, we create for it. Each quest we design is expected to end the experience with a specific feeling connected with the player character's character development. We should target the intrinsic Motivation of the player while designing the extrinsic motivation.


#1: Why is Intrinsic Motivation as important as Extrinsic?

Before I begin, let us recap Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation.

Extrinsic Motivation - the one we design explicitly to help the player progress, accomplish their goals, and helps them avoid punishment.

Intrinsic Motivation - the one where player set for themselves, which makes them happy and improve their self-esteem.

It's easy to target Intrinsic Motivation if their action results in feedback in the game world. However, it shouldn't be tracked explicitly or acknowledged anywhere else but in the game world.

Intrinsic Motivation targets the short-term goal of the player. But, unfortunately, it's an intrinsic motivation to impact a challenging long-term goal.

If players can't make up Intrinsic Motivation, we are doing something wrong. If there is only one playstyle in a design, it is hard to form intrinsic Motivation because extrinsic Motivation will provide the player with the Motivation to play.

A good balance between the two motivations will help players invest long-term. Therefore, explicit Motivation should be higher to help them progress, while a small amount of intrinsic Motivation will help their pursuit of extrinsic Motivation.

#2: Example: Hogwarts Legacy

Recently, I've been playing Hogwarts Legacy and thought about an idea during specific missions.

In Missions involving Poachers (there are plenty), the game provides you the Extrinsic Motivation - an objective to clear and what actions are needed for an extra reward. In completing these missions, the player progresses the quest, and the extra reward gives them progress in challenges which in turn provides extra rewards. Both are explicit rewards that can be tracked in the status bar.

What sort of Intrinsic rewards can we help players create here in this quest space?

I had an idea of placing trapped beasts around the area.

Players are usually sympathetic when it involves animals. A trapped animal? That means they will do anything to release it, whether it gives them any benefits in doing so.

The game doesn't explicitly inform the players to release them other than the visual aid of trapped beasts. What rewards would this intrinsic Motivation result in? 1. Players can release the beasts and move on 2. Players can release them and store them in the vivarium (personal beast area)

Doing any of the two actions could have a narrative moment for them when they visit the vivarium or the beasts' home region. For example, there could be a dialog from the player like "I see an increased population of [particular beast] here" or "these must be the ones I rescued some time ago" when they visit the vivarium, they could reminisce like "I am glad that I was able to release them."

These are small rewards that the game never tells them explicitly but only happened because of their intrinsically motivated action. So we have to reward players in a way they wouldn't expect to be rewarded. This encourages them to explore everywhere to find exciting things that could impact their experiences.


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