Repetition

In terms of game design, how much of it is a good thing?

Let's face it: life is already repetitious enough itself, so why should games be full of it as well? They're supposed to be entertainment, and maximizing that aspect equates to keeping things dynamic and interesting. On the other hand, we humans learn best through repetition, so it is probably essential in some capacity even in game design.

What games strike you as having a happy/healthy medium when it comes to repetition of the intended gameplay?

I think it's a proverbial double-edged sword, because often times it's games with the least amount of repetition (story-based) which have the worst gameplay, while games that are comprised almost entirely of repetition often have the most compelling and rewarding gameplay (fighting, driving, sports, etc.). Then there is something like puzzle games, which avoid feeling repetitious even though you might just be finding a new way to surmount a mildly different challenge.

A Wolf Among Us was outstanding for story but I don't care to play through it again.

I can play through Souls games several times because the core gameplay loop feels tangible, detailed, option-laden and satisfying. Same with even MGSV. Many say it's too repetitious in a bad way but the attention to detail and depth of options is so exceptional that I don't even notice.

I've also recently gotten back into Gran Turismo and the nuances in physics keep learning new tracks interesting, while mastering them ends up being practically zen-like therapy. The options for tuning and customizing make it all the better.

I'd say Just Cause 3 is a pretty good mix of repetition and variety. The gameplay is ultimately pretty uniform - Go place, blow up place, go to next place, and so on. But the game throws enough tools and ways to dick around in to keep everything pretty entertaining all the way through.

Actually, speaking of which I think I may redownload Just Cause 3.

Saying repetition is a bit wrong as while the gameplay can remain the same, the situation chan change dramatically. Souls is a good example with different stages and enemies with a bonus of high level gameplay to master the system. So games can avoid repetition by smart design making sure the player is not doing the same shit over and over again or switching gameplay styles/complexity to prevent parts from being too samey.

It depends on how satisfying the actions are. The more satisfying, the more repetition that it can afford. Any developer worth their salt can make a Skinner Box that keeps you playing the same thing over and over, without leaving you any sense of progress or satisfaction. Before adding quantity, there should be care of having quality (that's good design).

Pretty much all games are mechanically repetitious; what makes that repetition tolerable (if not downright fun) is when devs give us interesting environments, characters and situations with which to experience it.

First, an example of bad repetition; hopefully it's not too soon to bring up the tragedy that was Too Human? I had high hopes for that game: a sci-fi bent on Norse mythology sounded interesting. But what got ultimately delivered was a long, flat and bland corridor with literally identical enemies from start to finish, anemic variety coming only shoddily implemented RPG elements. I was bored after the first level of seemingly endless waves of the same robots; to discover the remaining scant few levels of that half-assed game were exactly the same was a huge let down. Come to find it had gone through a development hell that continued even after Too Human's release, so the shit show it ended up being started to make more sense; you could tell the devs heart wasn't in I; they shouldn't have bothered.

Good repetition? Splinter Cell. Being a largely pure stealth game, it's kinda hard to mix up base "sneaky-sneaky" gameplay without stepping out of the spirit of stealth, so the devs give you interesting and entertaining tools to work with to make lurking in the shadows interesting and to make you feel more empowered than threatened. On top of that, the series has always been really good in fleshing out each level, making them feel fluid, detailed and natural and ensuring each is varied enough from the others that they don't feel same-y. One moment you're sneaking into a government building to extra information from a politicians computer, the next you're extracting a diplomat from a terrorist group's bae camp. It's all about the tools, the specific task at hand and how creative you're allowed to be in achieving your goals that make the repetition of base actions in Splinter Cell fun to me.

Depends.

Platinum's games are monotonous because their worlds are drab and dead, their music is bland and their stories suck. Ubisoft's games, most of them, are monotonous because they're not fun to begin with.

A game can be just about shooting things or puzzling or hitting things, but the gameplay needs to be solid and I need to be motivated or absorbed by the other factors, like music, world, art, level design, tech and sometimes story.

I've always found games with higher levels of complexity in their design and mechanics lead me to a higher tolerance of repetition of mechanics/situations.

My guess is that comes from the gameplay only becoming stale when I feel either I've mastered what the game is asking of me or peaked in my ability to improve.

Games that are purely about the story with simple gameplay elements, such as the already mentioned (and excellent) telltale games rarely if ever warrant a replay from me at least.
I'm aware there are alternate endings, to an extent, but can't bring myself to retread the story as much as I enjoyed it.

Soul Calibur though, and a number of its sequels, I must have played through so many times I've lost count.
Civilisation and its many sequels, even more.

Perhaps then, it's when the game is sufficiently complex enough to have a degree of dynamism in the way it plays out which engenders the urge to repeat and replay.
God knows how this explains the grinding phenomenon.
I'm starting to think it's something similar to the psychology behind treadmills.

Repetition when put forward as an opportunity to improve and master something, I'm down with it. Otherwise, it's really just a means to an end that poses no joy. If I'm trying to get better I'll sit there for hours grabbing at each straw the game gives me and progress, otherwise the joy will fade.

Repetition is best when it leads to non-repetition. As Mikeybb used SoulCalibur as an example, fighting games are repetitive, but lead to various results. Even having the same two characters fight eachother with the same two people can end differently each subsequent match.

Most Tetris-esque puzzle-games are that too.

Games like Dark Souls, the repition may be fighting the same bosses, exploring the same locals, but the different bit is perhaps how you play through them. How does fighting O&S fare as a fighter with a greatsword? How about a magic user? What about dual wielding whips? etc.

Similar to open world games like The Elder Scrolls.

It depends on the genre. Some games are so repetitive it's boring whereas in other games there's a zen-like quality to the repetition.

Take fighting games for one, I can sit in training mode for hours practicing combos or figuring out new ones. Stuff like this:

It's similar to the act of practicing a musical piece, or even composing one. It's full of creative energy and entertainment.

On the other hand, if it's just a basic puzzle or action game with no depth or story and you do the same thing over and over towards no meaningful goal, I lose interest very fast.

So, to sum things up, how meaningful the repetition feels makes or breaks it.

I'd say there's a kind of scale with regards to repetitiveness. Basically the more depth the gameplay has the less variety elsewhere is needed. If the core thing you are doing has lots of depth taking a long time to master (if even possible), then repetitiveness isn't a factor regardless of the variety of other game elements. For example, you can play a multiplayer game like League of Legends on a single map for years. Or you can play a single player game like Bayonetta over and over again. If the core thing you are doing doesn't have much depth to it, then variety in other elements has to pick it up to make it feel fresh. I think Uncharted 2 is a prime example how Uncharted's gameplay can be kept entertaining with variety in scenarios, set-pieces, and pacing. I'd rate Uncharted 2 around 8/10 whereas every other Uncharted fails to "pick up" the average gameplay thus making them all average (aka 5/10).

Ezekiel:
Platinum's games are monotonous because their worlds are drab and dead, their music is bland and their stories suck.

Yeah, if you don't care to git gud, they won't be much fun for very long. Oh and Bayonetta has a marvelous OST, it even ends with Brenda Lee's 'Fly Me To The Moon', that's class right there.

Phoenixmgs:

Ezekiel:
Platinum's games are monotonous because their worlds are drab and dead, their music is bland and their stories suck.

Yeah, if you don't care to git gud, they won't be much fun for very long. Oh and Bayonetta has a marvelous OST, it even ends with Brenda Lee's 'Fly Me To The Moon', that's class right there.

The soundtrack is mostly pretty meh. You hear Fly Me to the Moon several times before that. Fly Me to the Moon isn't even one of my favorite Frank Sinatra songs. (Yes, I know he didn't write it.)

I'm not good at Streets of Rage 2. I've only been able to make it to level 6, the jungle. I like it.
I wasn't good at Max Payne 3. I liked it.
I wasn't good at Dark Souls. I liked it.
I wasn't good at Super Meat Boy. I liked it.
I wasn't good at Devil May Cry 3. I liked it.
I wasn't good at Gran Turismo 4. I liked it.
I wasn't good at Jet Set Radio (I'm guessing. Been a long time since I first played it.). I liked it.
I wasn't good at the Resident Evil remake. I liked it.

I could go on and on. I got better at them because I liked them. PG makes boring games whose core gameplay isn't much fun. Out of all of 'em, I liked Bayonetta the most. But I've been struggling to replay it.

Everything you do involves repetition. We learn through repetition.

If you learn music, surfing, car mechanics, boxing, driving... all done through repetition.

So repetition is not the problem. The problem is when u stop growing from this and it is not enjoyable. It has to be fun or there needs to be a pay off.

Ezekiel:
PG makes boring games whose core gameplay isn't much fun.

That's literally what they specialize in. No combat system on the market even compares to the complexity Bayo has outside of a pure fighting game.

Phoenixmgs:

Ezekiel:
PG makes boring games whose core gameplay isn't much fun.

That's literally what they specialize in. No combat system on the market even compares to the complexity Bayo has outside of a pure fighting game.

Bayonetta is Auto Aim: The Hack and Slash. It's like if you took Streets of Rage 2 and no longer required the player to turn towards the opponents and focus on positions. You press attack at least two meters from the nearest opponent and Axel/Blaze turns around and lunges at his/her enemy. The enemies mostly just stand there, taking their turns, letting you hit them with your dumb combos, until it comes time to perform a bogus QTE. They make their hack and slash games that way because they want them to be as fast and hectic as possible, but the core is not that interesting.

I also have a problem with the amount of detail on the screen and how fast the enemies hit. The picture is a mess and the camera doesn't stay still, making it harder to pay attention and anticipate their attacks, which are barely telegraphed. Call me a noob or whatever; I don't care.

Ezekiel:

Phoenixmgs:

Ezekiel:
PG makes boring games whose core gameplay isn't much fun.

That's literally what they specialize in. No combat system on the market even compares to the complexity Bayo has outside of a pure fighting game.

Bayonetta is Auto Aim: The Hack and Slash. It's like if you took Streets of Rage 2 and no longer required the player to turn towards the opponents and focus on positions. You press attack at least two meters from the nearest opponent and Axel/Blaze turns around and lunges at his/her enemy. The enemies mostly just stand there, taking their turns, letting you hit them with your dumb combos, until it comes time to perform a bogus QTE. They make their hack and slash games that way because they want them to be as fast and hectic as possible, but the core is not that interesting.

I also have a problem with the amount of detail on the screen and how fast the enemies hit. The picture is a mess and the camera doesn't stay still, making it harder to pay attention and anticipate their attacks, which are barely telegraphed. Call me a noob or whatever; I don't care.

The depth resides in the specific combo you do after she has auto aimed. The goal is to make the combo itself as cool as possible and have as much different moves combined within it as well as do so without being hit. That's where the depth resides and where you have to go to explore.

And the pace is nothing compared to a fighting game where if a move takes half a second to hit you, it's considered nigh-useless levels of slow.

Ezekiel:
I also have a problem with the amount of detail on the screen and how fast the enemies hit. The picture is a mess and the camera doesn't stay still, making it harder to pay attention and anticipate their attacks, which are barely telegraphed. Call me a noob or whatever; I don't care.

Of course, there's a video about how awesomely designed and animated Bayo's enemies are completely disproving your complaints. And Gracious and Glorious are heavily highlighted saying literally everything I said about them months ago in your Bayo thread.

Phoenixmgs:

Ezekiel:
I also have a problem with the amount of detail on the screen and how fast the enemies hit. The picture is a mess and the camera doesn't stay still, making it harder to pay attention and anticipate their attacks, which are barely telegraphed. Call me a noob or whatever; I don't care.

Of course, there's a video about how awesomely designed and animated Bayo's enemies are completely disproving your complaints. And Gracious and Glorious are heavily highlighted saying literally everything I said about them months ago in your Bayo thread.

I don't feel like watching another of your long, gushing videos. It wouldn't disprove my complaints anyway. In the end, it's kind of subjective. To be fair, I was using the early scene where the camera keeps spinning around Bayo and the other witch as they fight monsters to base my thoughts for that particular post. But later parts are messy too.

Ezekiel:
I don't feel like watching another of your long, gushing videos. It wouldn't disprove my complaints anyway. In the end, it's kind of subjective. To be fair, I was using the early scene where the camera keeps spinning around Bayo and the other witch as they fight monsters to base my thoughts for that particular post. But later parts are messy too.

It's literally does disprove your complaints because it goes in-depth on how great the enemy telegraphing animations are (including the animation itself, visual cues, and audio cues) while being a proper amount of frames to be in tune with the average reaction speed of a human. You can actually learn what entails making a great action game from the video because Platinum are the masters at it. For example, I can tell you from watching the video how the enemies in at least Bloodborne (as it's been too long since I played Dark Souls) are rather bad because you can stun-lock them ad nauseam. That's boring repetition right there; dodge, then mash R1 until stamina runs out, rinse and repeat for basically every normal/trash enemy. That's repetition to the nth degree, there's no skill involved in that outside of timing an easy dodge.

Well the first thing that comes into playing a game is pattern recognition - what the game wants from you, what you can and cannot do, how does the AI behave, etc. - so repetition is a must to some degree. Ideally you establish a base pattern and build on top of that.

Well as many have stated, repetition doesn't have to be a bad thing as long as it mixes things up from time to time. I'd say the perfect mix is when it uses repetition to a degree of getting to know all the tips and tricks of the gameplay but then throwing a wrench in the mix just to see how you handle it.

On an off-note, repetition is why I can't play any J-RPGS because the gameplay never really seems to change.

RanD00M:
On an off-note, repetition is why I can't play any J-RPGS because the gameplay never really seems to change.

Same here, even when I was a kid playing FFVI on SNES, I couldn't take the repetitive gameplay. You're doing the same thing the whole game. I like my RPGs to give new abilities/skills/perks/etc so my character actually feels like they are getting better, the whole "I can't wait until I can do that" aspect. Whereas my characters' stats just going up doesn't do much for me. It didn't help that the standard classic JRPG has really shitty turn-based combat.

 

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