Catering to Completionism

A recent comment got me thinking about completionism in video games, i.e. ‘one-hundred percenting’ a game. Some gamers get great satisfaction from knowing that they found everything there is to find, beat everything there is to beat, saw everything there is to see, et cetera. Jeff and I have talked about how to address this group of players in our game, since its RPG elements and branching narrative will hopefully entice those gamers who want to explore everything.

On the Shoulders of Giants

A couple of months ago Jeff and I spent two days replaying Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (SotN), one of the greatest designed games ever. I was farming the one dodo bird enemy in the game since he drops a unique weapon, when Jeff asked a great question: How would I know to even do that in the absence of strategy guides or the Internet? How would I know that this one enemy has a rare chance of dropping something that I cannot obtain in any other way?

In Symphony of the Night you can visit ‘The Librarian’, a character who will not only sell you tips but also provides an encyclopedia about all of the enemies you’ve fought. It lists their common and rare drops. If I wanted to one-hundred–percent the game without relying on any external resources then I could use this in-game list to see that I had not yet collected the rare drop from the dodo bird. I wouldn’t know it was that weapon, but still I would have a way to see both:

  1. Did I find every enemy in the game?

  2. Did I collect everything those enemies drop?

Coincidentally, these things do not directly contribute to your completion percentage in SotN, i.e. people aiming for a 200.7% clear (or higher if you include glitches). But the important part is that you could glean the gaps in your completion progress from within the game itself.

Using the Same Idea

Hell—why not, right? No shame in borrowing an idea from one of the best.

While we haven’t worked out the exact mechanics, the plan is for players who want to one-hundred–percent the game to be able to tell how far along they are in that endeavor, and hint and nudge them in the directions necessary to round everything out. The measure for success in that regard is that a player should be able to obtain and accomplish everything in the game, without too much tedium, and without recourse to anything like GameFAQS.

What other games are successful at providing an in-game barometer for completionism players?


3 thoughts on “Catering to Completionism

  1. I have experienced this with Guild Wars 2. They have a completion percentage for quests completed as well as world exploration. There’s also an additional challenge for vistas which require you to be strategic to bring yourself within reach in order to receive credit for seeing it. Many people playing that game have a need to complete every inch of the game on every character they own. The concept is attractive to many people, me as well. However, I do feel that once it’s done on a main character, trying to complete everything on an alt character just makes it feel like work.

    Anyway, this is one feature that I really loved about GW2 and any game that incorporates this feature is cool in my book.

    1. I haven’t played GW2 but that sounds useful for completionists.

      In general I am not a big fan of Trophies/Achievements on console games because so many feel arbitrarily pointless, as many are imposed on games by publishers. (“Gotta have’em Achievements!”) But one I think I do like about them is, for some games, they provide a nice list of what you need to do in order to accomplish one-hundred percent of everything in the game. I’ve been debating back and forth in my head if that would be a useful meter to put into the game I’ve been working on.

      Sometimes—often actually—when I want to one-percent a game I have this nagging dread that I am going to miss something and screw myself out of that accomplishment. You ever have that same concern? And if so, how do you prefer to deal with it? Resort to online guides? Trust the game to inform you of any optional avenues? Or something else?

      1. I have that same feeling in achievement based games. I only play PC games these days and I find that there is little to no effort to make the information available in game for the most part. Some games give descriptions of the achievements, which is helpful. Often times however, game wikis are almost needed to be a completionist.

        Usually I overcome the dread of forgetting stuff by setting time aside just for achievements. Basically for the times that I’m in the mood to go through and get achievements. Doing it this way is fun too because you can recruit your friends to help. And in some games help is needed because some achievements require a group or raid depending on the achievement.

        One game that I found interesting is Tera Online. Their questing system is pretty cool in you can click on the initiative and it opens a page with links to map areas to make questing easier. I think that a wiki-like system could be incorporated this way for more than quests but for achievements too.

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