Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
toration of a valuable game asset, you can probably guess what happened next (even though Nite didn't at the
time).
“I intended it to be used casually, like I would use it—you get in a fight, cast some spells, and get your spell
cost back afterward.” However, after adding this item, the developers noticed their players using it in a totally
different way: ”[P]eople quickly started casting all of their out-of-combat spells, running their MP [or Magic
Points] to empty, and then doing one combat to refill them.” In other words, people were using the Snowcone
in combat to generate MP to spend on non-combat spells. Or as Johnson puts it, “They were farming MP with
it—an obvious strategy to everyone but me. So we had to change it after the fact.”
Power Users Will Play against Your Intentions
“The other important lesson is that no matter how boring and joyless the most optimal way to play is, people
will do it. A lot of people will do it and complain the whole time. So it's not enough to say that, as a side ef-
fect of this new mechanic, players can get an extra adventure if they slog through hours of crap—no one will
do that.” Once a developer makes it possible for players to optimize their game characters, a select number of
power users will do so, no matter how time-consuming and difficult doing so is. Indeed, the very fact that it is
difficult will actually be interpreted by some players as a challenge. “We have to consider the people who will
stab themselves in the gut to play perfectly optimally and make sure to keep sharp objects away from them,”
explains Nite.
As for how KoL makes money, Nite shared some additional secrets, as described in the next section.
Secrets of KoL's Monetization Success: Enhanced
Gameplay, General Coolness
“The ascension mechanic was vital,” says Nite. Added to KoL in 2005, this feature enables players to “win”
the game on various difficulty levels and gameplay choices. Additionally, some rewards and other content can
be gained only while playing in Ascension Mode (see Figure 9-2 ). The KoL developers also allowed players to
speed up progress in this mode by sending them a donation. So this feature increased user retention by giving
established players a new way to play.
And it increased revenue by giving users a new way to pay.
 
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