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    This is one of my favorite essays ever. In it Steve Yegge analyzes how a series of fortunate mishaps created an addictive feedback loop in the endgame of Borderlands that caused a subculture to form. Some highlights:

    • The section on token economies.
    • A lot of pretty biting (and insightful) usability and design commentary. For example at the end he points out that players follow the path of least resistance so don’t worry too much about creating a bazillion varied experiences as long as the core game is well put together.
    • The writing is really good, in fact I’ve used this essay before for pointers on how to write in a way that is amusing and maintains interest.
    • Interesting side commentaries on video game design stuff.
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      Ok, I just got around to reading this. I only have one comment:

      It’s amusing how Gearbox has accidentally stumbled onto creating one single, minute, narrow instance of something that Blizzard cranks out, with casual ease, over and over, in a steady stream for years and years on end.

      (In other words: yeah, some people are well aware of all of these principles—which is why those people have subscriber numbers in the double-digit millions, and huge, Olympus-sized mountains of cash.)

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        Yup. It’s funny too because he talks about fun and addiction in this essay, and kind of starts to conflate them a bit at points. I was especially annoyed with his admonition that “fun isn’t enough”, because my favorite game at the time was Halo 3, and I thought Halo 3 was a lot of fun in a way that MMO’s rarely were. Moreover I felt that I could explain the principles of what made Halo 3 fun precisely because I’d had so much experience tweaking the experience through forge. So I’d always wanted to write a response essay about what makes something fun, but never quite got around to it.

        Maybe I should, since you said you’d like to see more of my Halo stuff.

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