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When breaking the rules can be good for players

In Gamasutra's latest feature, Josh Bycer explains that breaking the rules of the game is a sin against players -- but when you let the player do it, it makes for a better game.
In Gamasutra's latest feature, Josh Bycer explains that breaking the rules of the game is a sin against players -- but when you let the player do it, it makes for a better game. "If you have ever watched, or been a part of, a game where the child changes the rules constantly to keep themselves from losing, you can remember how frustrating that can be -- and you can see the correlation in video game design," Bycer writes. By way of a simple example, he offers up an obvious one in the Grand Theft Auto series -- "missions where the player is told to kill someone, but that person is invulnerable until the script of the mission gives the go-ahead. Once again, this breaks the rules of the established world." On the other hand, he writes, players can enjoy the opportunity to break the rules themselves. "The Disgaea series is known for having a massive amount of post-game content, in the form of extra-hard maps and extreme boss fights. To aid the player, the designers implement multiple systems designed to boost the capabilities of the player's units to obscene levels," he writes. "If the player decides to use these mechanics early on, they will break the main game's difficulty. Instead of being cheap, this form of rule-breaking rewards the player and encourages them to learn (and exploit) the game's mechanics." The full feature, in which Bycer takes a closer look at what he calls "the anatomy of a bad game", is live now on Gamasutra.

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