Understanding Game Design: Challenges

Previously we looked at offering a reward as an incentive to bring people back to your game day after day. In this post, we are going to look at an additional incentive: challenges. Challenges occur in several forms:

Daily Challenges – Challenges only available for that day; as long as the challenges are met, then the streak continues. Usually there are three challenges that need completed to finish the challenges for the day.
Mission Challenges – Challenges related to the game or mission at hand, that try to shape the way the user plays the game. For instance, while a player may try to get through point A to B as quickly as possible, Mission Challenges try to convince the player to achieve certain objectives within the game that extend the game even further, with some incentive (such as in-game currency).
Coincidental Challenges – For the lack of a better word, some challenges encourage the user to perform certain actions in the game (jump over something 5 times, slide under this or that, etc.) that may not directly relate to the actions of the game.

Challenges give the user the opportunity to achieve some perk for completing certain tasks. The challenge should be enticing enough to encourage users to continually come back to the game. However, these perks do not amount to the same amount of incentives offered for purchasing in-game currency; daily challenges usually progress the game a little faster, but overall progress continues forward a bit more slowly than users who pay money to buy currency. Challenges reward users for completing the challenge, and may offer a continual streak for completing the challenge day after day.

As the user gets more skilled, challenges should increase in difficulty. For instance, maybe the player has to run 250 feet to achieve the challenge. That distance should increase slowly over time. It should always be within grasp though; if the challenge is increased too much, it may dissuade the player from trying to put in the effort. Additionally, increases shouldn’t occur after every time they complete it, but after so many completions of the perk.

Let’s take a look at some examples of challenges:

– Subway Surfer – the player gets rewards for performing in-game activities. Jumping over train cars, rolling X times, collecting X coins, stumbling into train cars, are all challenges that can be completed to increase the overall score multiplier. Increasing the score multiplier leads to higher scores.
– Mini Golf MatchUp -This game provides 3 daily challenges that have to be earned within the game. While these challenges don’t streak, completing the challenge offers a coin reward. The rewards are provided for certain actions: making a hole in one, activating certain features, etc.

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