Opening Overwatch loot boxes or Halo 5 REQ packs adds a special drama to a gaming session. The crate shakes. A jingle chimes. Lights peek out from the cracks. It swells with potential. Game developers make subtle design decisions that stoke the hope that keeps players opening mystery boxes, crates and packs. And not just on the stats side of things—just as important are the cosmetics of the experience. Advertisement A combination of visual and aural factors can make it feel like Christmas, and that’s intentional according to people we recently spoke to who explained the designs of three totally different mystery mechanics. Here’s the thinking behind each: Overwatch Loot Boxes During Overwatch’s Lunar New Year event, I tore through loot boxes with a single-minded goal: Roadhog’s “Bajie” skin. It drove me crazy. I’d watch the special edition box’s gears churn and shake until it exploded in fireworks. When the items hit the ground, gold nuggets rained from the sky. The whole experience is kinetic, a song and dance of lights and movement. It dulled the pain of never getting that skin. Advertisement READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
In video games, frustration is often viewed as a dirty word. If you’re feeling frustrated—like you’ve hit a wall and can’t find a way over, under, or around—the designers must have made a mistake. That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes, game makers try to make you feel irritated, or even livid. Advertisement Last week, Duelyst designer John Treviranus gave a talk on frustration during the “Lost Levels” micro-conference that takes place in the park next to GDC every year. He said his big takeaway from working on Duelyst, which mashes up turn-based tactics and trading card games, is that people sometimes want to be mad, and game designers should take advantage of that. Intrigued by the idea, I decided to ask Treviranus a few questions. Because it’s me, we also talked about Overwatch. Nathan Grayson: You’ve said your goal with new cards is often to frustrate players. Why is that? Advertisement John Treviranus: I think maybe the best way to frame it is that when you’re working with something with collectible content or regular content releases, it’s very easy to fall into a READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!