Monday’s Mini – Can We Feel Related to NPCs? 2/2

In our exclusive Slack community for Premium Primers, we offer the weekly Monday’s Mini Challenge.
The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. We created the Monday’s Mini Challenges to offer our Primers the chance to do this.

Monday’s Mini. One topic. Three questions. Many high-quality answers from our Primers.

Oftentimes when we think about Core Drive 5, we think about Social Influence, Relatedness, Social Pressure, Envy. We think about what we do based on what other people do, think, or say, about collaboration and competition. With humans.

But what about NPCs? What about animals? What about people that only exist in books, stories, movies?
This week we will explore a larger extent of Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

Question 3 – One of the low hanging fruits to improve a design, is to make it easy for users to show appreciation for each other. However, we can only motivate people, gently nudge them in the right direction, we cannot control them. Do you think we can use things we can control (e.g. NPCs, the companion on the Island, a chatbot…) to achieve (partly) the same effect. Motivate your answer.

Thorsten Niemeyer shares his own experience with Witcher 3 and how NPCs motivated him through CD5.

“Appreciation from an NPC, you companion can definitely motivate you, and I think the more it is individualised the better.
So like in video games where you grow to like persons, prefer them over others, do things for them rather than others (Witcher 3 with all the different Relationships comes to my mind, where I for sure had some kind of social feelings for the characters, especially regarding how my interactions affected the relationship)
Another thing that I thought of was a bot that shows you around a game, platform etc. that shows you how to do things, drive actions, how to communicate with others. And there with the right kind of dialogue it could definitely invoke some CD5.
“Hey adventure let me show you around. Here you can chat with me, ah nice. If you post something others can like it. Here see you already got a like from me.”, even though knowing the first like is from a bot would at least I have the feeling do its part to motivate the user.”

Lucian Katzbach goes into detail about what would be necessary in order to have a NPC offer motivation through Core Drive 5.

“Yes, I think it’s possible. But hard to achieve since it must be vivid. The npc needs to have weaknesses or moods etc. But they need additionally enough CD7 but still needs to be in context. All this makes it hard. One example might be the app Replika.”

Colin Hahn is brainstorming for automated coaching tools.

“I’ll say yes. The scenario I’m thinking about is automated coaching tools. I’ve personally found that messages from those bots can tap into that social experience. From a motivation perspective, I’ve felt like that technique works better when:
– The bot has a “personality” – that creates some CD3 and CD7 which makes me interested in what the bot will say, instead of just expecting a rote explanation
– The bot customizes the messages for me – there’s probably a combination of CD4 Alfred Effect, CD3, and CD 7 involved when the bot asks, e.g., why I care about the goal and then uses that language in future reminders
– The bot connects me with other users; I’ve seen some bots use CD5 social anchoring to say “85% of your peers did ABC, you should too!””

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!

Monday’s Mini – Can We Feel Related to NPCs? 1/2

In our exclusive Slack community for Premium Primers, we offer the weekly Monday’s Mini Challenge.
The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. We created the Monday’s Mini Challenges to offer our Primers the chance to do this.

Monday's Mini. One topic. Three questions. Many high-quality answers from our Primers. Click To Tweet

Oftentimes when we think about Core Drive 5, we think about Social Influence, Relatedness, Social Pressure, Envy. We think about what we do based on what other people do, think, or say, about collaboration and competition. With humans.

But what about NPCs? What about animals? What about people that only exist in books, stories, movies?
This week we will explore a larger extent of Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

Question 2 – “Do you think NPCs can motivate us through Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness? Explain why you think this can or cannot be while coming to the core of what you feel CD5 represents.”

Manas Mallik (Product Manager) goes to the core of CD5: Social Influence & Relatedness.

“I think NPCs can motivate us through CD5. That it’s a bot doesn’t matter as long as it is designed well. Deep underneath humans want to be appreciated, feel wanted, feel encouraged and a NPC can do that. Rationally thinking we might say that we are not motivated but actually we are. It is true for any advertisements also NPC need to designed intelligently for the right context and Then it can motivate through CD5”

Ren Chang Soo (Experience Designer) uses Animal Crossing to analyze the use of NPCs there, focussing on the possibility of AI in NPCs in games.

“In animal crossing, the NPC Tom Nook can be perceived to play the role of a mentor. You can go to Tom and ask “What should I do?” and Tom would share next steps. Getting answers to the question of “What should I do” sounds like the NPC is motivating us through CD5 (mentorship)
Having said that, upon further investigation, you will realise that Tom Nook is just sharing your next logical “desired actions” in a conversation format. And thus might act more like a guide (instead of mentor), when the player is looking for a new “desired action” to move forward with.
Thus having an option to ask the NPC an open ended question/ advice such as “What should I do?” is a good starting point in embedding CD5. It is also imperative that the NPC’s response to this question needs to be crafted (by the game designer) in a way that the player feels like receiving guidance/ advice from the NPC in further strengthening the presence of CD5
What would be awesome is to have NPC powered by artificial intelligence.

Predrag Stefanović goes into more detail explaining about how NPCs can utilize Core Drive 5.

“Yes, I think NPC could motivate us through CD5.
The NPC could inform us how we stand on the leaderboard and what tasks we need to perform in order to progress further. For example, he might say, “Great, you’re doing well for now. If you complete the task to the end, you’ll overtake John B. on the leaderboard. Also, after we solve a task, the NPC can reveal to us in what way and what strategy was used by John B. to kill the dragon and win the mighty sword. Also, NPC can invite me to help my friend John B. in battle. From the above examples, we can see that NPC can be our ally in correspondence with real players in many ways, utilizing core drive 5.”

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!

OP Mini Challenge – Habit Building

We host a Slack Community where the premium members of Octalysis Prime come together to support and learn from each other. The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. That is why we created the ‘Monday’s Mini Challenge’: One topic, three questions and many excellent answers from our Premium Primers!

The Question

“People often get a boost of motivation to start exercising when summer is around the corner. However, this is often short-lived and insufficient to maintain the new behavior.

After doing a daily action has become a habit, which usually takes around 60 days, it is a lot easier to sustain the behavior, how can you explain this using the Octalysis Framework?”

Habit Building – Reply from Alexandre Lim

Monday's Mini Habit Building - Profile Picture 2

Alexandre Lim is a software engineer from France and passionate about Gamification. He tackles the question using the Eight Core Drives:

“People often focus on what they want to achieve; outcomes in a limited time frame. This is mostly based on Black Hat and Extrinsic Core Drives (CD). Namely CD8: Avoidance, CD6: Scarcity, and CD2: Accomplishment. As a result they either burn out, or they stop due to a lack of urgency as soon as the time frame is finished.

It’s useful to leverage CD8, CD6, and CD2 at first to create the urgency to start building the habit. But to enrich the experience and sustain the behavior, we should add the intrinsic Core Drives CD3: Empowerment, CD7: Curiosity and CD5: Social Influence. A CD5 example would be having an accountability partner.

But I think the crucial Core Drive at play is actually CD4: Ownership. By repeating an action every day, unconsciously, we create a new identity (CD4). We don’t want to lose this identity (CD8), so the habit persists. As part of our identity, it’s becoming easier to sustain the behavior.

For example, my identity is centered around being a badminton player. If I had to stop playing after 20 years of practice, I’d likely go through an identity crisis. ”

Habit Building – Reply from Bo Ullersted

Monday's Mini Habit Building - Profile Picture 3

Bo is a teacher from Denmark and a long-time Octalysis Prime member with a steady record of great quality replies. Here he connects B.J. Fogg’s Behavioral Model and Daniel Kahneman’s System 1 and System 2 thinking to the question:

“It’s part of the B=MAP theory: when it becomes a habit, you automatically have a Prompt – you remember that this is the time you usually do this activity.

It also increases your Ability to do the action. For this reason, less Motivation is needed to do the action. Yu-kai even states that when something is a strong habit, motivation is needed to not do the action.

But why does our Ability increase when we build a habit? It has to do with System 1 and 2, from ‘Thinking, fast and Slow’. When we do stuff that are not habits, we need to spend mental energy on activating the ‘logical brain’, System 2. But habits can be run by our efficient, “intuitive brain”, System 1, which is our default mode.”

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!

Interview with Jeff Booth (Economy Expert and Author)

Here, Yu-kai interviews Jeff Booth, an economy expert. He is the co-founder of BuildDirect and the author of Why Deflation is the Key to an Abundant Future.

Jeff Booth is a visionary leader who has lived at the forefront of technology change for 20 years. He led BuildDirect, a technology company that aimed to simplify the building industry, for nearly two decades through the dot-com meltdown, the 2008 financial crisis, and many waves of technological disruption. Jeff has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch,, The Globe and Mail, BNN, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, TIME, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2015, he was named BC Technology Industry Association’s (BCTIA) Person of the Year, and in 2016 Goldman Sachs named him among its 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.

Watch the five-part Octalysis Prime series of Yu-kai interviewing Jeff over Zoom about the current COVID economy and his predictions of the post-COVID economy.

If you are interested to go deeper on this topic you have couple of options:

  1. You can find it on
  2. Join Octalysis Prime community to dialogue more with Yu-kai and a community of learners of gamification:

Why Our Members Joined Octalysis Prime

There are reasons we start things and reasons we stay engaged.

We wanted to learn more about our members in OP, so we asked:

  1. Why did you start?
  2. Why are you still here?

Here’s what we learned.

This was taken from a sample of our Octalysis Prime paying members, including some annual members.

About half of members changed their response, although you cannot see what they changed their response from and to.

Surveys are notoriously difficult to dissect, and so we do not rely on them exclusively to get to know our members.

Perhaps best are the in-person discussions we have with members. In these face-to-face interactions, people tend to share more personal stories about what brought them to Octalysis Prime, and what they are hoping to do next in their business and life.

Endgame Loot Design: World of Warcraft vs Diablo III

Hey Primers. Today, we’re going to talk about the endgame loot design systems, between World of Warcraft, and Diablo III. We will see how they apply different understandings of commitment and reward within their player experience.

This video was originally published on

And this relates to this topic that we talked about a little bit which is the mythic dungeon system and the loot box system that attaches to it. (Also on

Background on World of Warcraft and Diablo

So, for some background: World of Warcraft and Diablo are both
Blizzard games. They’re made by this gaming company called Blizzard. They’re both very successful. They create some of the best franchises in the world. And there’s a difference between the two games.

Diablo, even though they both seem like what we call RPGs role-playing games. Diablo is a hack-and-slash. There’s almost nothing else you can do. You go in, kill monsters, destroy everything, go home, look at your loot and then go out and destroy everything again.

World of Warcraft is more of what they call an MMORPG, massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which means you’re in a world where you can explore. You can go into professions like you alchemy, you can create guilds and you have all these different types of activities in that world.

So, these two games are different in nature, one is more immersive and exploratory, and the other is more satisfying your sensation drive, just go in and destroy all these monsters.

World of Warcraft has been a very successful game. People have been paying monthly fees of $10-15 every single month after $40-60 purchases of the game.

For more than 15 years, so it’s very very successful.

Trying to Solve Endgame Problems

But it still has a lot of problems to solve. And it was trying to create a good end game design. So basically on each expansion which the new beta version of a release, people would play hardcore: they get the highest gear, they have so many great things. And they feel like, “Well, why do I still play this game?” And so the designers wanted to figure out how to do good end game design.

Now, let’s take a moment to discuss Diablo III, but first, some background in Diablo II.

Diablo II was a very very successful game, people played for 5-10 years, and they still love the game. And then Diablo III came out. And the first version, everyone hated it. It was not so great. Some people enjoyed it but got old real fast, they thought it was a crappy game and didn’t want to play it so much and there was all this issue with the real money auction house, which will evaluate in another video.

The problem is that they didn’t like this end game design. Most people still played hundreds of hours on Diablo III but then they said, “Wow, we only play it for three months and then it got boring.” But they wanted to play for 5-10 years as they had with Diablo II.

In the new version of Diablo III, called Reaper of Souls, they eventually solved all these problems. People felt it was fun again they went back for a lot more of it.

In Reaper of Souls they introduced the mythical dungeon system, what people do is they would choose what level they want to play (mythic level one, level two, level 10, level 50, and his skills up, and if you can beat the mythical dungeon within a certain timeframe then you get rewarded greatly for it.

Now, in World of Warcraft, the latest version which is 8.0
called The Battle for Azeroth, they wanted to solve this issue too, so even in the previous version, 7.0, they adapted this as some of the mythical dungeons and mythical plus, which is just building higher and higher levels.

We talked about this in one of my game design videos, called the Mythic Keystone Chest design, we talked about that mythic plus.

Why do Players Still Complain?

Now, even with that system, a lot of people still complain about World of Warcraft. And so, why is that the case? It was very unexpected because people really liked it in Diablo III, but people didn’t like the whole system as much.

The mythic plus system, especially the loot system, and all that work. What is the difference? Now we keep in mind, when we think about the end game, this is all about the endgame, people are motivated to play in this game.

Oftentimes, because of Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity, that attaches to Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession, and Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment.

A lot of time the Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback is no longer there. There are some social aspects but for Diablo, it doesn’t have to be social for World of Warcraft, it’s a little more social.

But Diablo is a slot machine design. You go into the dungeon. And when you kill these monsters you kill the boss, it’s like pulling off a machine, and something will drop out from the boss, and maybe something you want maybe you want, but when it drops you get cooler gear and a lot of challenge.

The challenge goes on at a higher level mythic dungeon, and just rinse and repeat so it’s just this big casino game that you’re playing over and over and over again.

Now, while World of Warcraft was doing the same thing, you play this big dungeon that requires five players to be part of. And after defeating a lot of costs, anywhere from four to eight big bosses, you get a reward, sometimes that is what you really want.

This sounds a lot like Diablo III’s system, so why is World of Warcraft not doing as well? Why are people complaining and so angry about it?

The Literature of Mystery Box Designs

This goes back to the literature of mystery box design. I believe I was, as far as I know, the first person to have come up with different CD7 design types that recognize different kinds of mystery box designs

In Diablo III, the commitment to get the mystery box was lower. They weren’t willing to do drawn out commitments. But the lower commitment worked.

Now, what the Blizzard developers didn’t think of–and they are really experienced game designers–was that for Diablo, you can complete a dungeon by yourself, you don’t have to organize a bunch of people get friends together you can just go by yourself, and then finish it in anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes, very very fast.

Whereas in World of Warcraft, for this dungeon again you have to find other players to play with you and be very committed because remember we talked about, if one person drops out, then the whole thing breaks down. That’s a high-stress kind of situation. A lot of times it takes 20 minutes or even longer just to find the right teammates to be with you. People have to log in at the same time, producing a huge commitment just to get together. And when you do a World of Warcraft dungeon, it takes anywhere between 40 minutes to three hours.

The big difference between these two designs is that in
Diablo, you get to play the slot machines, over and over and over again really quickly. It’s a small commitment to see what you win. And therefore, really well for that pacing for that dynamic for World of Warcraft, it’s a huge commitment to pull the slot machine bar, and if you do all this work of the sweat, blood, and tears, and you pull the slot machine bar (and don’t get what you like) you can’t decide, “I’m gonna do this again for 10 times today”, because you don’t have the time to do that.

The psychological result? You tried this one I saw that it was not worth it (you committed a lot of time and effort and didn’t get the loot outcome). So you leave and you’re unhappy. Yeah, absolutely. The nature of the mystery box design has a positive effect for Diablo III, but not for World of Warcraft, at least how they are currently using it.

Observe Mystery Box Designs You See

I just want you to soak in this knowledge and understand that it doesn’t matter if you’re creating a game, if you’re trying to get good game design. If you try to create behavioral change, by understanding these psychological principles of the 8 Core Drives and these game design techniques you can avoid mistakes that even these top game designers are making and jump to something better, creating engaging experiences.

What I hope you’ll share in the comments is about your own experiences with mystery box designs. How were they set up, what were their rules, and how did those experiences make you feel?

If you’ve seen other games use these designs, I’d be super impressed if you could share whether they succeeded or failed based on your understanding of the Core Drives. With that said, I’ll see you soon in another video.

New Octalysis Prime Theme Song

My most important project thus far

For those who have been following me, you’ll know that Octalysis Prime is my most important project thus far. I plan to share the entirety of my useful knowledge in this gamified platform.

Currently my 500 page book Actionable Gamification is only about 15% of the knowledge base. With 400 Videos and more every week on OP (About 5-10 min on average), I plan to eventually get as close to 100% as possible.

My end goal is to leave this for my two daughters Symphony and Harmony. If one day I get hit by a bus, I’ll know that everything I want to teach my children is already in this platform. So far we have hundreds of passionate members participating, learning, and upgrading their lives.

The Octalysis Prime Theme Song Launches

This week I’m most excited about the launch of our Octalysis Prime Theme Song by talented musician Melody Hwang. It turned out brilliantly and feels like a fully legitimate contemporary pop song with a game angle to it.

I first approached Melody via her Kickstarter project and asked her if she could create something similar to the One-Punch Man Theme Song. I gave her some suggested lyrics and then off she went – creating this masterpiece that is now my favorite song BY FAR.

Enjoy the song!