Rampant Games - What Makes Exploration Fun
The Rampant Coyote talks in his latest blog on what makes exploration fun, using Minecraft as an exmple and raising 5 points that should be addressed in order to make it fun.
3. Reward or Purpose. There should be some benefit to exploration, even if it’s largely self-directed. In Minecraft, it’s fairly intrinsic. The world is your reward – you are master of all you survey, and it’s all ripe for your exploitation – or simply exploration. In Diablo-likes, unexplored territory is more likely to contain something of value, or a key object / enemy that you are seeking. Is that too fine of a point? Maybe.
Many people think exploration should be it’s own reward – a fully intrinsic benefit to the player. For me, it’s like the motivation of a character in a story. It may not be key, or all that important, but without a strong motivation the whole thing falls flat. I’m a little bit goal-directed as a player most times, so I want to know that at least sometimes I’ll be able to tell myself that I’ve benefited from time spent off the rails. Note that knowledge can be power – the purpose or reward doesn’t have to be an actual in-game “item” or experience point bump or anything like that, but simply an improved understanding of the game or the world, or discovery (there’s that word again!) of secrets.