Anticipation Parade: Gamification Design Technique

Today we shall explore another Gamification Design Technique I coin as the “Anticipation Parade” (Game Design Technique #15). This gamification design technique can be used for heightening the excitement and engagement levels in various mediums such as games, movies, and even business software. So, let’s unfold this narrative and venture into the depths of Anticipation Parade, a technique that not only engages users but sometimes makes an experience more gratifying.

An Anticipation Parade is a sensational event that builds up to a climactic moment. It is that pulse-quickening period just before an exhilarating event is set to unfold, generating an ambiance saturated with curiosity and excitement. The beauty of this technique lies in its ability to prepare the audience mentally and emotionally for what’s coming, fostering a state of heightened eagerness, and even a bit of impatience, driven by a tantalizing foreplay of what is about to occur. This buildup often augments the overall experience, making it vastly more engaging and immersive.

Let us step back a bit and analyze this technique through the lens of film history. One of the quintessential examples that illustrate this technique flawlessly is the theme music in the movie “Jaws,” a well-known thriller that had audiences gripping their seats. The music in the movie crafts a significant amount of tension, setting the stage for the shark’s appearance which in itself may last for just a fleeting moment.

However, this orchestrated build up of sound and tension, often lasting minutes, enhances the entire scene manifold, making the shark’s appearance feel a lot a more prominent than it actually is. It’s an orchestration that signals to the audience that an exhilarating event is imminent.

Similarly, in the animated world, series like “Dragon Ball” have utilized this method to great effect. The series, peppered with such instances, features characters like Vegeta who, before executing a powerful move, exhibits a buildup that is often accompanied by distinctive background musical scores. This musical cue not only sets the scene but also amplifies the gravity of the impending event. In the popular Parody Youtube Series, “Dragon Ball Z Abridged,” viewers love to joke about the Anticipation Parade. When Vegeta was full of rage and building up his powerful attack, his allies would try to stop him from destroying the earth, but since the piano scored as started to play, there was no going back.

Transcending beyond the realms of movies and animations, this technique finds its echoes in animated series like “Disney’s Aladdin” as well. Remember the time when Aladdin discovers the magic lamp? That moment wasn’t simply about the Genie popping out and offering wishes. There was a deliberate buildup, a spectacle that signaled to the audience that something wondrous was on the horizon, thus making the Genie’s eventual appearance more significant and delightful.

Now, let us shift our focus towards the gaming sphere where Anticipation Parades play a critical role. In games like “Heroes of the Storm” or “Overwatch”, the act of opening a loot box or a card pack isn’t a straightforward affair. The process is transformed into a theatrical event, adorned with animations and accompanied by musical cues that enhance the significance of the activity. Even though the rewards might not always match up to the buildup, the Anticipation Parade ensures that the process feels eventful and rewarding.

Now, I would like to bring your attention to the element of sound in creating this buildup. In many scenarios, especially in gaming, a spinning wheel is used to heighten the anticipation. The sound of the wheel spinning, accompanied by music that escalates in intensity, often serves as an auditory cue for the impending reward. This auditory buildup, coupled with visual elements, creates a rich tapestry of anticipation, making the eventual revelation a more rewarding experience.

Moreover, this technique is not limited to entertainment mediums. In the non-entertainment domain, a simple drumroll preceding an announcement serves a similar purpose, fostering a brief moment of heightened anticipation before the revelation. This technique leverages Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness, drawing people into a communal experience of anticipation.

Furthermore, in the realm of business software, companies like MailChimp had cleverly integrated this concept into their platform. Before sending out a newsletter to a large audience, a figure is depicted nervously poised to press the send button, visually echoing the sender’s own apprehensions and thus connecting with the user on an emotional level. This builds a brief moment of tension, which is then followed by a congratulatory message, thus transforming a mundane task into a more engaging and gratifying experience.

As we traverse through this journey of understanding the Anticipation Parade, it is evident that it is a powerful tool in human-focused design, a methodology that centers around human feelings and motivations as opposed to mere functionality and efficiency. It takes into consideration the human proclivity towards excitement and anticipation, and utilizes it to craft experiences that are more immersive and rewarding.

In conclusion, I’d encourage you to take notice whenever you spot an Anticipation Parade, possibly even finding avenues to incorporate it into your projects. Whether in media, movies, software products, or even in classroom settings, this technique has the potential to amplify the engagement and excitement levels.

I invite you to share examples and insights in the comments section, fostering a rich discussion that could potentially inspire many in our community. Let us explore how this technique can be woven into our narratives, making experiences more engaging and exciting.

Leveling System (GT#85) and League Rank (GT#101)

The Allure of the Leveling System (Game Design Technique #85)

The Leveling System stands as a linchpin in the game design sphere, renowned for its intricate architecture yet perceivably seamless integration into a game’s narrative. When we venture into the complexities of this system, it essentially operates as a structured pathway where users, through their endeavors and activities within the game, accumulate experience points or status points, progressively reaching milestones that signal their growth and achievement.

This system finds its foundation in a few pivotal elements. Firstly, it aims to craft a rich, nuanced experience at various stages: the Onboarding phase, the Scaffolding phase, and the Endgame phase (Note: not in the Discovery Phase because the user hasn’t started leveling yet). This careful segmentation allows for a curated journey, where players are introduced to the game’s elements gradually, fostering a sense of discovery and growth.

Under the Octalysis framework, this process resonates strongly with Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment, which is essentially the motivation stemming from a player’s desire to grow, to improve, and to overcome challenges. Furthermore, this system ingeniously integrates elements of Scarcity and Impatience (Core Drive 6), where certain features and functionalities are withheld initially, only to be unveiled as the player advances, adding layers of anticipation and excitement.

Another utility of Leveling is connected to Social Influence and Relatedness (Core Drive 5). The status accrued as players level up grants them recognition in the gaming community, fostering a competitive yet collaborative environment. Moreover, this system intertwines with Ownership and Possession (Core Drive 4), as players are rewarded with better equipment, gear, or rewards as they progress, enhancing their stake and attachment to the game.

In this ecosystem, a principle to underline is the sunk cost fallacy (within Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance), a psychological phenomenon where individuals continue an endeavor owing to the invested resources, thus fostering consistency and commitment.

The leveling system, therefore, stands as a dynamic tool in the game designer’s repertoire, promoting a sense of achievement, fostering community engagement, and retaining players through carefully orchestrated experiences.

A quintessential example can be found in games like Noctis, where players progressively unlock new powers, nurturing a sense of empowerment and fostering creativity (Core Drive 3), which fuels engagement and retains interest over time.

The League Rank System (Game Design Technique #101)

As we shift our focus to the League Rank system, we find a different but equally compelling dynamic at play. This system, although less prevalent in the gamified platforms, carries the potential to transform the social arena, offering a vibrant, competitive, and yet equal playing field.

The League Rank system operates by categorizing users into various leagues – be it diamond, gold, platinum, or bronze. Within these leagues, individuals or teams compete, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie (Core Drive 5). The brilliance of this system lies in its ability to level the playing field, offering each player, irrespective of their ranking, an opportunity to excel in their respective leagues. When players are matched up with others of their own skill, the activities feel more balanced and enjoyable for both sides.

By doing so, it mitigates the potential demoralization that might occur in a single leaderboard system, where only one person is the winner, leaving thousands in the wake of defeat. Instead, it creates micro-communities where everyone has a chance to be on top, fostering a healthy competitive spirit and maintaining engagement.

This system echoes the principles of “urgent optimism,” a concept outlined by Jane McGonigal. It fosters a space where players are constantly nudged by both urgency and optimism (Core Drive 6 & 2), a belief that victory is within reach, fueling continuous engagement and participation.

Furthermore, League Ranks are predominantly performance-driven, aligning with the Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment. Players, through their skill and performance, have the potential to ascend leagues, an achievement that motivates the users to brag about their rise to greatness.

For instance, achieving a high rank in games like Starcraft II becomes a badge of honor, a testimony to one’s skill and dedication. This not only promotes a sense of accomplishment but also fosters community engagement and recognition, pillars upon which the League Rank system is built.

Moreover, this system fosters balance in team competitions, ensuring teams are pitted against each other based on their respective League Rankings, promoting fairness and competitiveness.

Applying Leveling Systems and League Ranks in Gamification

As gamification designers stand at the crossroads, the choice between a Leveling System and a League Rank System or even a hybrid of both depends largely on the intricacies of their gamified platform. Each system carries its unique strengths and can potentially revolutionize the gaming experience.

But the quintessential aspect lies in understanding the underpinning mechanics of each system, and how they align with the Octalysis Framework’s 8 Core Drives. This deeper understanding allows designers to craft experiences that are not only engaging but also resonate with the intrinsic motivations of the players.

Thus, as we stand at the frontier of game design, it becomes imperative to dive deeper, to explore, and to harness the potentials of these systems, fostering gaming environments that are engaging, dynamic, and profoundly immersive.

If you have been glued to a Leveling or League Rank System, inside or outside a game, would love to see you share your example and why was it so engaging so everyone can learn from it.

Boosters: The Gamification Design Technique to Create Game Loops

Game design has long been studied and revered for its intricate techniques that engage users and maintain their interests. As businesses look to these strategies for inspiration, one Game Design Technique emerges with robust potential: Booster (GT #31).

Understanding the Essence of a Booster

In the gaming universe, a Booster serves as a specific type of reward. However, it’s distinct from typical rewards, which might offer players external advantages or benefits. Instead, a Booster is designed to enhance a player’s innate capabilities or powers within the game itself. For instance, consider the world-renowned game, Super Mario. Here, power-ups like the star or mushroom don’t bestow players with coins or extra lives directly. Instead, they elevate the player’s strength or abilities, enabling them to confront challenges with increased prowess (in this case, “tankyness”). 

Boosters Versus Status: A Comparative Analysis

When discussing game rewards, it’s crucial to contrast Boosters with another powerful motivator: Status. Within the Octalysis Framework, status finds its place under Core Drives 5: Social Influence & Relatedness matched with Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment. While status is undeniably a potent motivator, it does exhibit some limitations.

To elucidate, let’s evaluate a scenario involving StarCraft II, a prominent real-time strategy game created by Blizzard Entertainment. Players invest time and effort to climb the rankings, aiming for a prestigious status within the game’s complex league structure. However, there’s a paradoxical element here: achieving a high rank might diminish the player’s drive to continue. Having reached a pinnacle position, the sense of accomplishment might overshadow the incentive to play further. In stark contrast, Boosters perpetually engage players. By endowing players with tools or abilities that augment their gameplay (like a formidable sword after a challenging quest), the game ensures that the player’s journey remains perpetual.

Translating Boosters to Real-World Scenarios

While the potency of Boosters is evident in gaming, their applicability extends far beyond virtual realms. Numerous industries have realized the transformative power of Boosters, integrating them into their operational strategies. Let’s explore some of these real-world adaptations.

Enhancing E-commerce with Boosters

eBay, a global e-commerce giant, offers an enlightening example of how Boosters can redefine user experience. While the platform could resort to traditional methods to incentivize sellers, such as monetary discounts or perks, it has the potential to think beyond. By embracing the Booster philosophy, eBay could offer tools that elevate the selling process. Imagine they gave the most diligent sellers a specialized seller’s kit, complete with a portable backdrop for flawless product photography, and an accurate weighing scale to streamline shipping. Such tools act as Boosters, optimizing the user’s task and ensuring they remain engaged and loyal to the platform.

Loyalty Programs Reimagined through Boosters

In India, there is a restaurant loyalty program where instead of standard loyalty points or discounts, they offer a spinning wheel game, embedding the Feedback Mechanic through a Mystery Box (GT #72) design. This game, requiring minimal commitment, can bestow users with Boosters for loyalty points that are applicable at associated restaurants. A standout reward, such as a 15% bonus, functions as a powerful Booster. Now users are more likely to go to a restaurant because they were lucky to get the most amazing Booster for eating there. It not only entices users with its value but ensures they actively visit the restaurants, maximizing the benefit of their reward.

Why Boosters Are Imperative for Future Strategies

As businesses venture into an era characterized by fleeting attention spans and dynamic user preferences, retaining engagement is paramount. Here, Boosters emerge as a beacon of hope. By integrating rewards that amplify user experiences or accelerate desired actions, organizations can foster prolonged engagement, cultivating a loyal user base.

Furthermore, Boosters can redefine marketing strategies. By offering value that amplifies a user’s interaction with a product or service, businesses can foster organic brand advocacy. A satisfied user, empowered by a Booster, is more likely to champion the brand, leading to organic growth and enhanced brand perception.

In Conclusion

Boosters, while rooted in game design, possess a vast potential that transcends industries. As organizations grapple with the challenge of sustained user engagement, Boosters offer a promising solution. Their capacity to augment user experience, while driving desired actions, makes them indispensable for future-focused strategies. As we progress, it’s evident that those who harness the power of Boosters will lead, setting new benchmarks for user engagement and business success.

How to Use Octalysis Framework to Understand What Game Design Techniques to Use

Today, we’ll be discussing how to utilize the Octalysis Framework in choosing effective game design elements. During a recent Octalysis Prime office hours session, a longtime and active member inquired if there existed a framework to assist in determining which game design techniques to use. I jokingly asked him if he’s ever heard of the Octalysis Framework. This resulted in a very fruitful discussion and the realization that this concept might be unclear to others. Hence, I decided to share my insights via this blog post.

Understanding the Octalysis Framework

At the beginning of any project, we always start with the 8 Core Drives through the 5-Step Octalysis Design process. This process requires defining Business Metrics, understanding Players Types, outlining the Desired Actions, and identifying the rewards, incentives, Feedback Mechanics, and Triggers.

You need to focus on the player type and understand what motivates them. Sometimes, you might even consider Richard Bartle’s 4 Player Types: Achievers, Socializers, Killers, and Explorers to better design your game.

For instance, when working with corporate clients, executives often want to incorporate more competition into their designs. They believe competition is universally motivating because they themselves are competitive people. However, it’s vital to realize that not all player types respond to competition similarly.

Applying Core Drives in Workplace Gamification

Understanding Player Types and their corresponding Core Drives can influence the success of your game design. For instance, many workplace roles, especially retail or blue-collar jobs, are filled by Socializers. These individuals are not typically seeking high achievement; instead, they prioritize harmony and interaction with their colleagues. Therefore, focusing on Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness might be more effective. This could include adding more Group Quest (GT #22), Social Treasures (GT #63), and designs to promote people to appreciate each other better.

Monotonous tasks are common in many industries, such as factories or retail. To combat the disengagement resulting from such repetitive work, it’s beneficial to incorporate Core Drive 7: Unpredictability and Curiosity. Mystery Box (GT #72) designs can make each repetition feel like opening a treasure box or pulling a slot machine lever, adding an element of fun and surprise.

Creating Hybrid Designs

Once you’ve identified the player types and understood the Core Drives, the challenge is to determine what game design elements can fulfill those drives. You don’t need to stick to a list of existing elements; the most successful designs often come from unique combinations or hybrids. The key is to understand the Core Drives at a deep level and consider how different game design techniques can serve those drives.

This strategy of linking the 8 Core Drives to Player Types, applying them to the 4 Phases, and then tying them into game design elements can enhance your understanding of the Octalysis Framework. Remember, it’s not about memorizing game design techniques; it’s about understanding and learning through your journey with Octalysis.


I hope this exploration of the Octalysis Framework proves helpful. Game design can be an intricate process, but understanding your Player Types and applying the correct Core Drives can lead to engaging impactful experiences. I look forward to continuing the discussion and delving deeper into game design in future posts.

Decoding the Mystery Box: A Dive into the Intricacies of Reward Design

Today, I’m going to guide you through a fascinating game design technique known as the “Mystery Box (GT #72).” A type of reward context, the Mystery Box, possesses a unique charm that plays on our inherent curiosity and desire for the unknown. Let’s delve into the world of reward structures, of which there are several types, and understand how the Mystery Box stands out from the rest.

Unveiling the Different Types of Reward Structures

A lot (but not all) of reward contexts fall into three categories based on how much Core Drive 7: Unpredictability there is – Fixed Action Reward (Earned Lunch), Mystery Box, and Easter Egg design.

Fixed Action Reward or “Earned Lunch” (GT #07)

In this model, the user knows exactly what they need to do to get the reward, and they also know what the reward is. They work diligently, and when they receive the reward, they’re not surprised. They feel they’ve earned it and that it was their due. This method is straightforward and satisfying IF the reward continues to be appealing, but it also lacks an element of surprise or excitement.

The Mystery Box (GT #72)

Unlike the Fixed Action Reward, with a Mystery Box, people know the action they need to take but don’t know what the reward is. Imagine opening a treasure chest or defeating a monster in a game; something drops, maybe a sword, but you’re unsure what it will be until the moment arrives.

The Easter Egg Design (GT #30)

In this type of reward, the user neither knows what the reward is nor what they need to do to get it. The reward just appears by surprise. This design presents an intriguing challenge as it takes both the task and rewards into the realm of the unknown.

In today’s discussion, we’ll focus primarily on the Mystery Box design.

The Charm and Challenge of the Mystery Box

What makes the Mystery Box particularly fascinating is that because people don’t know what the reward is, there’s a sprinkle of Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity tied to the reward, which is usually associated with Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession. The enigma of the unknown reward motivates individuals to make small commitments to satisfy their curiosity, but not large or long-term commitments.

Consider this example: If I asked you to walk across the room and pick up my crystal ball to show you something cool, you might wonder what it could be and complete the task due to curiosity. However, if I requested you to drive across town to my house to pick up the crystal ball, you’d probably hesitate, pondering if the reward would be worth such a large commitment.

Interestingly, this behavior is also reflected in lottery players. People are willing to spend a dollar for a one-in-a-billion chance of winning a million dollars but hesitate to invest $100 for a one-in-a-million chance of winning the same amount, even though the second deal is objectively ten times better. It demonstrates our willingness to make small commitments to deal with unpredictability, but larger commitments are a different story.

Leveraging the Mystery Box in Design

When implementing the Mystery Box design, remember that it’s most effective when users are already engaged in the Desired Actions. Adding a mystery box, and a little unpredictability, to the expected routine can increase engagement and motivation. For instance, telling an employee that they have a surprise reward waiting for them if they complete their day’s work efficiently can stimulate their interest and performance. However, remember that mystery box designs should not be long-drawn-out promises, as they can breed uncertainty and dissatisfaction.

To implement a Mystery Box reward without using technology or software,, you could create a schedule of rewards tied to a dice roll. Once an activity is completed, roll the dice to determine the reward. This approach adds an element of chance and excitement to the rewards, making the experience more engaging.

Be Careful with Probability!

Remember that when rolling two dice, the probability of getting each number is not the same. If you roll one die, there’s a one-in-six chance of getting any result. But when you roll two dice, you can’t get one, and there’s a higher probability of getting numbers around five, six, or seven than getting a two or twelve. When designing your reward schedule, you might make two and twelve the major rewards that you don’t want to give out too often. But when you do get them, it’s a significant event, adding an extra layer of excitement to the Mystery Box design.

The magic of the Mystery Box design lies in the anticipation and the thrill of rolling the dice and seeing what you get. The uncertainty of the reward combined with the Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity makes this a powerful tool for designing engaging experiences.

In closing, I hope this exploration of the Mystery Box design offers you valuable insights that you can integrate into your designs. Remember, the most impactful designs often come from a place of creativity and understanding of our inherent human motivations.

Exploring Appointment Dynamics: A Key Tool in Gamification

Today, I am thrilled to dive deeper into the world of gamification techniques and share with you a captivating design method known as “Appointment Dynamics (GT #21).” In the context of gamification and the Octalysis Framework, “Appointment Dynamics” pertains to the implementation of a mechanism where users are incentivized to return to a platform or activity at a predefined, specific time to receive a reward or fulfill a requirement. This relatively straightforward technique entails the completion of tasks or actions based on a specific schedule or “appointment.” Although it might seem simple, Appointment Dynamics is a powerful tool embedded in various aspects of our society. In this blog post, we will unravel why it is not only intriguing but also serves as a potent motivator, enhancing user engagement and experience.

Appointment Dynamics in the Gaming Sphere

To begin our exploration, let’s first take a glance at the application of Appointment Dynamics within the gaming universe. Here, the technique often manifests itself in weekly events, such as conquering a certain boss or a special gaming event, all designed to create a spike in player activity on a specific day. One interesting but less-known example comes from World of Warcraft, which hosted a weekly fishing contest firmly rooted in Appointment Dynamics.

This technique is fundamentally tied to Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience. The concept of scarcity in time and availability compels users to strategically plan and prioritize their actions. However, this strategy also introduces an element of Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance. If users fail to participate during the specified window, they miss the opportunity, fostering a sense of loss and avoidance. This blend of Core Drive 6 and Core Drive 8 serves to instill a sense of urgency in users, driving them to engage in the Desired Actions. This dynamic elicits a Black Hat experience, which creates urgency but makes people feel out of control of their own behavior.
However, once the action is completed, the dynamics transition to evoke a sense of achievement or Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment. This White Hat experience, emerging after successfully fulfilling a plan, gives users a rewarding sense of accomplishment, thereby striking a harmonious balance between Black Hat and White Hat experiences. This careful equilibrium is pivotal in sustaining user engagement and motivation over time.

Appointment Dynamics in Everyday Life

The reach of Appointment Dynamics extends far beyond the digital realm. It’s a fundamental component of many real-world scenarios, from religious practices (going to church every Sunday) that instill Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling to everyday tasks such as trash collection (garbage truck comes every Tuesday), which unwittingly incorporate elements of Core Drive 8.

Businesses have not been immune to the allure of Appointment Dynamics either. A prime example is the universally recognized “Happy Hour” that many restaurants offer. These strategically timed discounts aim to lure patrons during slower business periods, effectively driving scheduled consumer behavior.

Moreover, specific holidays operate on the principles of Appointment Dynamics. Valentine’s Day, for instance, serves as a trigger for people to remember to show love and appreciation to their significant others. Similarly, other festivals and holidays such as Christmas, Easter, or Halloween are timed events that trigger specific behaviors and actions, adding another layer to how Appointment Dynamics are woven into the fabric of our lives.

Integrating Various Core Drives into Appointment Dynamics

In our exploration of Appointment Dynamics, we have thus far encountered Core Drives 2, 6, and 8. But by creatively tweaking the dynamics, we can also introduce other Core Drives. For example, by incorporating Streak Designs (GT #78) based on timely participation or Collection Sets (GT #16), we can inject elements of Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession. Additionally, transforming appointments into a status symbol or a bonding activity allows us to weave in Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness.

Drawing a Distinction: Appointment Dynamics versus Torture Breaks

While exploring gamification techniques, it’s crucial to distinguish between Appointment Dynamics and another seemingly similar game design technique called “Torture Breaks (GT #66.” Although they share similarities, the differentiating factor lies in their respective triggers and timing. Torture Breaks come into play after a Desired Action and often function based on a countdown timer based on when the activity is triggered. In contrast, Appointment Dynamics operate around absolute times – every Monday or every July, for instance.
Consider a treasure chest in a game that opens after a specific countdown – that’s a Torture Break. On the other hand, regular office hours or scheduled classes reflect Appointment Dynamics, an example that illustrates the nuanced difference between the two.

Two Types of Appointment Dynamics

Appointment Dynamics come in two primary flavors – one-time appointments and recurring appointments. Recurring appointments are effective tools for habit-building and user immersion, while one-time appointments, like product launch events, play on scarcity to amplify user engagement.

Take, for instance, the fervor around Apple iPhone launches. These are significant one-time appointments that create a buzz and a sense of scarcity, driving people to line up and wait for hours for their new devices. Such events highlight the power of Appointment Dynamics when applied creatively and strategically.

As we wrap up our exploration of Appointment Dynamics, remember that the key isn’t just about the complexity or novelty of a game design technique. The real magic happens when you seamlessly integrate these simpler techniques to create a compelling, immersive user experience. I look forward to hearing about your experiences or examples of Appointment Dynamics and how you’ve woven them into your work. Ultimately, understanding and adeptly implementing these techniques are integral to creating engaging, dynamic experiences.

The Power of Milestone Unlocks in Gamification Design

Today, we’re going to delve into a Game Design Technique known as a “Milestone unlock” (#19). It’s one of the many Game Design Techniques discussed in my book. At its core, a Milestone Unlock is a method where reaching a milestone in the game unfolds new avenues for gameplay. This process involves several key elements.

Milestone Unlock in Gamification Design

Firstly, there must be a defined milestone. Players need to reach this milestone through Desired Actions. Upon achieving the milestone, something new becomes available, expanding the gameplay possibilities. This addition often enables you to play the game in a slightly different manner.

This technique is primarily included in Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback. Most game design techniques draw power from multiple Core Drives, and the Milestone Unlock involves other Core Drives like Scarcity (CD6), Unpredictability (CD7), and Accomplishment (CD2). Often the more Core Drives a Game Design Technique involves, the more intricate the effects.

Plants vs Zombies and Diablo 3 as examples

A popular example that showcases the impact of Milestone Unlocks is the game “Plants vs Zombies.” It’s a delightful game enjoyed by a wide demographic, from children to adults. Players use plants with unique abilities to defend their homes from incoming zombies.

Players have to make strategic choices throughout, including deciding on the balance of cheap and abundant plants vs. more powerful and expensive ones. Players encounter different types of zombies, each requiring a unique strategy to defeat. Reaching certain milestones in the game can unlock a new plant, which allows for new strategies and gives players an edge against specific types of zombies.

Often, when we play a game, we set a personal milestone. For instance, you might decide to stop playing after reaching a certain level or completing a stage. But games like ‘Plants vs Zombies’ cleverly disrupt this plan by introducing a new element right after a milestone. It compels you to explore the new feature, thus extending your gameplay. This affect makes people who previously wanted to go to bed when they reach the milestone supercharged and wanting to play more instead.

I’ve had similar experiences with games like Diablo 3. I would aim to reach a milestone before ending the game, but upon reaching that milestone and gaining a new skill, I couldn’t resist testing out the new ability. This desire would lead me deeper into the game, creating a cycle of anticipation and reward.

The Structure of Milestone Unlocks

The structure of milestone unlocks often involves a fixed action reward system linked to a booster. However, various variations can make it effective too.

It’s sometimes compared to another game design technique called the “grownup lock” (GT #122). This technique involves having an object in your possession that you can’t use until you reach a particular level, creating anticipation and a sense of scarcity.

The best results usually occur when the reward is unpredictable – somewhat like a Mystery Box or an Easter Egg. The player is aware of the milestone but doesn’t know what the reward will be. Upon reaching the milestone, the player unlocks something unexpected and exciting.

Another important element is that the reward should act as a booster, which adds dynamism to your gameplay. It allows more strategy, like getting a new chess piece with unique movements or a new color of paint as an artist. This unpredictability and excitement keep the player engaged and motivated to reach the next milestone.

You can also incorporate Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness into Milestone Unlocks by creating Group Milestone Unlocks. When a group achieves an activity, they all unlock a new skill, which can make the gameplay more dynamic and exciting.

Milestone unlocks employ a mix of Core Drives. The milestone itself signifies Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience. The unpredictability of the reward ties into Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity. Sometimes there’s even an element of Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance, where players feel they may miss out on opportunities if they don’t reach the milestone.

Remember, a milestone unlock doesn’t just offer a physical reward or a virtual badge. The goal is to enhance the gameplay. The unlock should be a new component or a tool that enhances the gameplay, and that’s what makes a good milestone unlock design.

If you have any ideas about implementing the Milestone Unlock technique in your product or platform, sharing that would be interesting for everyone learning about this game design technique. Remember, the key is to make the gameplay more dynamic, exciting, and engaging.