Home Game Development Ask a Game Dev — Game Development Glossary: Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Rewards

Ask a Game Dev — Game Development Glossary: Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Rewards

Ask a Game Dev — Game Development Glossary: Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Rewards


You could have heard the phrases “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” rewards utilized in reference to recreation design and puzzled what they meant. These phrases are methods to explain several types of rewards earned by the participant over the course of gameplay. Categorizing rewards as intrinsic and extrinsic are useful in planning the way in which gameplay and participant development is structured and gated. This is as a result of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards often make the participant really feel totally different feelings – intrinsic rewards make gamers really feel skillful, whereas extrinsic rewards make them really feel highly effective. While these feelings are associated, they don’t seem to be the identical factor and shouldn’t be conflated with one another.


“Extrinsic” means coming from the skin or exterior. An extrinsic reward is one that’s not one thing that the participant can study, however it’s one thing obtained by the participant’s character. An extrinsic reward is could be a new weapon, gold, expertise factors, worthwhile objects, and so forth. In order to progress by way of the sport, the participant would possibly have to earn sufficient expertise factors to stage up sufficient, discover gear sturdy sufficient, and even discover a proper key to unlock the door to be able to enter the subsequent zone. Obtaining objects in Zelda: Ocarina of Time just like the hookshot are examples of extrinsic rewards used to gate progress by way of the sport – Link merely can’t traverse sure areas with out first acquiring the hookshot. Extrinsic rewards are sometimes doled out in very exact trend – both by way of means decided by a systemic method or hand-placed by a designer as a reward for one thing particular. Extrinsic rewards make the participant really feel highly effective. The participant hits more durable, can shrug off blows that used to defeat them, the enemies really feel simpler to defeat, all without having to expend any extra thought or effort. 


“Intrinsic” means coming from the within. An intrinsic reward is one thing that the participant learns (moderately than the participant’s character) and can be utilized by the participant on any playthrough. This is likely to be a method, a method, a gap sequence, or a construct order. Ryu gamers don’t want to achieve a sure stage or full a quest earlier than they’ll throw a hadouken, they simply have to learn the way. A participant who is aware of the right way to throw a hadouken can achieve this whereas taking part in on any platform without having to unlock or earn something. Other examples of intrinsic rewards embody weapon-specific strikes/assaults in Monster Hunter, protect browsing in Breath of the Wild, laning and jungling technique in League of Legends, and footsies in preventing video games. We can construct these intrinsic rewards and educate the participant the right way to use them or go away them for gamers to find by way of their very own experimentation. Intrinsic rewards make gamers really feel skillful – every scenario the place they’re required to carry out and others can’t reminds them that they’ve earned data and ability that belongs to them and can’t be taken away.


Many video games gate development with a mixture of each intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Games with extra intrinsic rewards are inclined to lean extra towards replayability and favor the demonstration of ability – gamers typically should hone their potential to play the sport to be able to progress, like in Dark Souls video games. Games with extra extrinsic rewards place heavier emphasis on amassing and incomes particular rewards that present extra energy to the participant’s character straight, like World of Warcraft the place gamers chase the sensation of energy. You would possibly discover {that a} main precept of pace working analysis is the deconstruction of many extrinsic rewards into intrinsic abilities (e.g. RNG manipulation, min/maxing leveling/cash incomes, and so forth.) in order that the sport will be accomplished extra rapidly and constantly. The selections about whether or not rewards must be intrinsic or extrinsic have an enormous impact on the general means the sport will likely be performed. Because intrinsic rewards will be introduced over to any playthrough by way of prior data, any would-be designer should acknowledge that they need to at all times be out there always. Intrinsic rewards often make the gamers really feel skillful, whereas extrinsic rewards make the participant really feel extra highly effective. Note the distinction and preserve this in your design toolbox and use the place acceptable.

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