Game Development Reference
battling a dragon, and one of them decides to go get a snack or heal the
dragon just to see what happens, the entire team is screwed.
There are two basic kinds of destructive player behavior: divergent
goals and skill differentials .
DIVERGENT GOALS appear when players in a multiplayer game decide to
pursue goals that break other players' experiences.
I've discussed Modern Warfare 's merits. Now it's time to look at one of its
flaws: it has divergent player goals. The official goal of every multiplayer
match is to win. Each game type sets different criteria for winning. For
example, in Capture the Flag, the goal is to capture more flags than the
enemy team before time runs out. The trouble is that the game also tracks
how many enemies each player kills and stores this information in a per-
sistent database. And killing is more immediately and viscerally gratifying
than watching a score ticker in the corner of the screen. As a result, some
players choose to ignore the official goals like capturing the flag, and in-
stead focus solely on racking up kills. This doesn't harm their experience,
but it harms the experiences of others. Their allies are forced to play with
a teammate who won't capture objectives, and their opponents are denied
a good, honest game.
The only reason Modern Warfare is design still holds together is be-
cause killing enemies is usually still helpful in achieving team goals. A
teammate who doesn't care about capturing the flag is still contributing if
he's killing enemies. There is a divergent goal, but it's still aligned closely
enough with the official goal that the game mostly works. So while the
game is harmed, it is not destroyed.
If the divergent goal had driven players to act completely against the
official goals, the game would fall apart. For example, Left 4 Dead is about
four survivors helping one another survive a zombie outbreak. The game
is designed so that the team does best when it works together. But some-
times, one player might run off and decide to see how far he can get alone,
just to challenge himself. But this destroys his teammates' play experi-
ence. He gets the unwinnable but entertaining fight he wanted, but his
teammates are left without his help and the carefully balanced game
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